Tag Archives: F

SUPER TROOPERS 2

Producer: Richard Perello
Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Writer: Broken Lizard
Stars: Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, Brian Cox, Rob Lowe, Damon Wayans Jr., Sean William Scott, Marisa Coughlan, Lynda Carter, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Tyler Labine, Will Sasso, Hayes MacArthur, Paul Walter Hauser, Jim Gaffigan, Fred Savage, Jimmy Tatro and Clifton Collins, Jr.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures

F

“Super Troopers 2” has been in the works since the original’s release in 2002, and one has to say that if this is all Broken Lizard (Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske) has been able to come up with in sixteen years, they should probably close up shop pronto. The members of the troupe were already rather long in the tooth to be doing the sort of raucous, crude, stupid, unfunny stoned frat-boy stuff represented by the first picture more than a decade and a half ago; now they seem utterly desperate, and positively over-the-hill, repeating the routine.

The plot, if one can call it that, is as close to a carbon copy of the first flick as can be. After being dismissed as Vermont troopers after the catastrophic events of the original, the numbskull boys—Thorny (Chandrasekhar), Foster (Soter), Mac (Lemme), Favra (Heffernan) and Rabbit (Stolhanske)–are reduced to working construction. But they’re called back into service by the Vermont governor (Lynda Carter, reprising her embarrassing cameo) when it’s discovered that the state really juts into an area of Quebec previously deemed Canadian. So our dissipated bunch of losers are named to replace the local Mounties (Tyler Labine, Will Sasso and Hayes MacArthur) under the command of their old captain John O’Hagen, played again by a slumming Brian Cox. (One only hopes his paycheck was substantial.)

While being confronted by hostility from the locals, with the exception of the local mayor (Rob Lowe, affecting one of the many horrible French-Canadian accents strewn throughout) and an official trying to expedite the territorial turnover (Emmanuelle Chriqui), the troopers discover another smuggling operation, this one involving fake iPhones and drugs, and try to identify the culprits. Interspersed with this threadbare narrative is a succession of sketches involving Canadian stereotypes (“niceness” among them), a battle with a bear that invades the station, and jokes about differences between the U.S. and its northern neighbor (kilometers versus miles—what hilarity! permissive Canuck laws about prostitution and alcohol strength—how funny!)

Then there are the long-running gags, like Thorny’s addiction to female sex-enhancement pills or Rooster’s romance with Chriqui. Juvenile drug humor is bountiful (a dream sequence at the start, featuring Sean William Scott and Damon Wayans Jr. as a couple of dumb-as-rock cops, combines that with slapstick violence of a remarkably unpleasant sort), as is naughty comedy focusing on balls and penises (one drearily repeated joke stresses putting “caulk” in a hole, and the number of crotch punches and kicks is beyond counting).

All the members of the Lizard team are intensely irritating, but Heffernan surely takes the cake as the endlessly obnoxious, vulgar loudmouth Favra. It’s incredible that a character who’s insufferable at the start should become more and more so as the movie drags on, but Heffernan manages that apparently impossible feat. Lots of people in these slob comedies are grating, but Favra takes top dishonors in the constellation of such disreputable creatures. Of the other cast members, Lowe comes off worst simply because he has the most screen time, but nobody fares well, though Marisa Coughlan, as a pretty U.S. motocycle cop, and Fred Savage, showing up in a closing credits clip after being referred to throughout, come closest.

As one might expect, “Troopers 2” is technically mediocre, with Chandrasekhar’s lackadaisical direction matched by similar work from the rest of the crew. Of course the ratty look of the picture is supposed to be part of its crummy charm, but in reality it’s just ugly.

The original “Super Troopers,” wretched as it was, became a sort of cult favorite among some in its video afterlife. They will probably enjoy this reunion with the goofball quintet, especially if fortified by their sense-affecting substance of choice. For anyone else, this lower-than-lowbrow mess—which takes a place somewhere between Jerry Lewis at his worst and the Three Stooges at their oldest (when you feared that every pratfall might be fatal), laced with a heavy dose of Cheech and Chong—will be a very painful experience.

TRUTH OR DARE

Producer: Jason Blum
Director: Jeff Wadlow
Writer: Jillian Jacobs, Michael Reisz, Christopher Roach and Jeff Wadlow
Stars: Lucy Hale, Tyler Posey, Violett Beane, Sophia Ali, Landon Liboiron, Hayden Szeto, Nolan Gerard Funk, Sam Lerner, Brady Smith, Morgan Lindholm, Aurora Perrineau, Tom Choi and Gary Anthony Williams
Studio: Universal Pictures

F

Hollywood’s Friday the 13th horror offering for 2018 is “Truth or Dare,” a movie concocted by no fewer than four writers that posits a possessed version of the late-night party game in which trapped participants die if—or rather when—they refuse to play or follow the rules. Obviously inspired by the “Final Destination” franchise (as well as “The Ring” pictures, and, further back, Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”), it’s produced by the Blumhouse factory, which is actually trying to create a brand by promoting it as “Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare.”

Now Blumhouse has made some successful little horror movies, and one or two good ones, most notably “Get Out.” But this is not among their better stuff. It’s an extremely silly dead teen flick that’s as tedious as it is dumb, hardly the sort of thing you should want your name inextricably associated with.

That goes for the unfortunate cast members, too, who play an assortment of California college friends who go to Mexico for an exciting spring break. The squeaky-clean good girl is Olivia (Lucy Hale), who is enticed into going instead of working for Habitat for Humanity. Her BFF and roomie is flighty Markie (Violett Beane), who unlike Olivia has a studly boyfriend, Lucas (Tyler Posey). A second couple consists of cynical premed student Tyler (Nolan Gerard Funk) and his rather nondescript girlfriend Penelope (Sophia Ali). The other single chum is Brad (Hayden Szeto), a gay kid who’s keeping his sexuality a secret from his macho cop dad (Tom Choi). On their last night of fun south of the border, they’re joined by a thoroughly obnoxious classmate named Ronnie (Sam Lerner).

The group is soon enlarged further by the addition of a guy named Carter (Landon Liboiron), whom Olivia meets at the bar and who invites them all to go to an abandoned mission church nearby for a post-closing time celebration. It’s he who initiates the truth or dare game, in which they all participate until he bolts, telling Olivia that he has saved himself by foisting the cursed thing on them: they must play it indefinitely for its controlling demon’s pleasure—until each of them dies, of course.

Returning to school, they dismiss the whole business as bunk until the game begins intruding on their lives when some stranger or other, wearing a sudden ghoulish grin on his or her face, demands “Truth or Dare!” The seriousness of it all becomes apparent when those who refuse to play, or lie instead of telling the truth, or fail to complete a dare, die. These death scenes are supposed to be clever and surprising, like the ones in “Final Destination” were, but they’re not. They’re just boring.

Even worse are the instances in which, compelled to tell the truth, the potential victims blurt out secrets—about infidelity, or the real reasons behind a relative’s suicide, or about one’s sexual preference, or about who really loves whom. These sorry moments play like bathetic highlights from a bad CW teen soap opera—but that might be a redundancy, since are there any other kind?

As if all that weren’t bad enough, the movie culminates in a long explanation of what’s going on, delivered by a mute Mexican woman who scribbles her revelations on the pages of a scratch pad. The origin of the curse turns out to be ridiculous, and the means of resolving the situation idiotically complicated, leading to still more deaths. An ineptly staged coda proves to be the moment frightening thing the movie has to offer, simply because it threatens a sequel.

The cast struggle to bring some life to the material, but it’s a lost cause, especially considering Jeff Wadlow’s leaden direction. None of the characters go beyond sketch level, and some of them are positively repulsive. As a result it’s impossible to care what fate befalls any of them.
Even technically the picture is a bust—Melanie Jones’s production design is mediocre (especially in the Mexican scenes—with the obviously phony exterior of the church a major flaw), and Jacques Jouffret’s cinematography is often either too dark or imperfectly composed. Sean Albertson’s editing comes across as haphazard—he could have shed at least ten minutes or more without any loss—and Matthew Mergeson’s music adds nothing to the ambience.

Perhaps it’s appropriate that this movie is being released on Friday the 13th, after all, because one thing is certain about “Truth or Dare”: those who go to see it are guaranteed two hours of bad luck.