*. There’s a scene that occurs around halfway through Super Troopers that is obviously meant to tell us something about the kind of movie it is. As part of their investigation into a marijuana smuggling operation, the state police (or troopers) have to do some research into a cartoon monkey character that is being used as a brand for the illegal drugs. When one of them asks the senior trooper if he’s watched any of the monkey cartoons he says that he has but that “there’s nothing there.” Maybe, it is suggested, he should take another look.
*. What this means is that he should watch the monkey cartoon while stoned. This the troopers all do, and they laugh hysterically at it while picking up some important clues. You get the point. All you need to do in order to have a good time watching a silly cartoon in a language you don’t even understand is to light up beforehand. If you don’t, “there’s nothing there.”
*. This is a not-so-subtle defence of Super Troopers. It’s “stoner comedy,” which means not only that it’s about people who get drunk and take drugs but that if you’re not stoned or drunk yourself you’re not going to be able to fully appreciate it. This also goes some way to explaining the enormous gap on the various review aggregator sites between critical scores and audience rankings. One assumes the people who call Super Troopers the “best movie EVER!!!” are on drugs.
*. I did not laugh at Super Troopers. In fact, I don’t think I even smiled at it much. This surprised me, as I was in the mood and really looking forward to it. But I was not high. So I came away thinking there was nothing there.
*. That’s not to say I hated it. There’s nothing much to hate. In fact, I was surprised at how little reaction I had to Super Troopers. The Broken Lizard group started off as a band of college comedians and they perform the kind of dopey humour that I didn’t enjoy much even when I was in school. It’s fitting that the film ends up at a frat party, because in a way that’s where it started, and indeed where it was all along. Frat parties were something I tried to avoid when I was in university, and which I only have painful memories of today.
*. So the question then becomes why I didn’t hate it. Here I have to confess to a very odd response. I felt sorry for this movie. It seems so obviously the work of a bunch of guys who really don’t know what they’re doing. I was watching people who aren’t very funny trying to be funny, and that’s just sad. The smiles Super Troopers did raise were smiles of pity at the overall incompetence on display. This is my only way of understanding the oft-cited “likeability” of the cast. I didn’t want to laugh at them so I tried to laugh with them. But even that didn’t really work.