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‘Super Troopers 2’ far from super

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Today’s Hollywood is built on sequels. It’s no longer enough to make one movie that achieves box office success – you need to make a movie that will beget another movie that will beget still another movie and so on down the line. Some are designed to be ongoing – think the Marvel Cinematic Universe; others evolve into continuing concerns – the “Fast and Furious” franchise springs to mind.

But what about those sequels that simply shouldn’t be? The ones that are too late and/or too lame to effectively capitalize on what made the original special?

What about “Super Troopers 2”?

The latest outing from the five-man comedic troupe Broken Lizard – their first since 2009’s “The Slammin’ Salmon” and sixth overall – revisits the film that marked their biggest success. There has been a lot of water under the bridge since 2001, but despite those nearly two decades, this new movie feels, well - not new. In every way that matters, it’s a warmed-over rehash, consisting largely of callbacks and recollections of what people loved about the first movie.

Bear in mind, this is coming from someone with genuine affection for “Super Troopers” – I am essentially the exact person for whom this movie was even made, and yet … meh.

The sequel takes place an indeterminate time after the events of the first film (although certainly a period measured in months rather than years). Due to an oft-alluded-to-but-never-explained ride along incident involving Fred Savage, all five of our former law enforcement friends are no longer on the force.

Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske) and Mac (Steve Lemme) are working construction under the supervision of their power-tripping jerk of a former fellow officer Farva (Kevin Heffernan). Foster (Paul Soter) is still dating Ursula (Marisa Coughlan, “Space Station 76”), who has been promoted to chief of the town police force. And Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar) now works as a woodcutter.

At the behest of their former commanding officer O’Hagan (Brian Cox, “Churchill”), the group heads to Canada for a fishing trip. Upon their arrival, however, they’re met not only by O’Hagan, but by Vermont Governor Jessman (Lynda Carter, TV’s “Supergirl”), who tells them the real reason for their arrival in Canada. It turns out that due to some reassessment of the borders, a small chunk of Canada is actually United States territory; the transition is to be overseen by the former highway patrolmen.

This chunk includes a small town that is less than thrilled about its new nationality. Former hockey star-turned-mayor Guy LeFranc (Rob Lowe, TV’s “Code Black”) has some gloriously-accented issues with the idea, as do the trio of Mounties – Podien (Hayes MacArthur, TV’s “Angie Tribeca”), Bellefuille (Tyler Labine, “Big Bear”) and Achambault (Will Sasso, TV’s “Another Period”) – who are to be reassigned to a town WAY up north following the changeover. The only local on the side of the Vermont crew is cultural attaché Genevieve Aubois (Emmanuelle Chriqui, TV’s “Shut Eye”).

Do hijinks ensue? You better believe it. Pranks pile up as both teams of law enforcement look for increasingly weird and complicated ways to force one another out. Along the way, a drug smuggling operation is discovered and it soon becomes clear that there’s a lot more going on here than meets the eye. Some crackerjack police work is needed. But what we’ve got are the titular Super Troopers.

“Super Troopers 2” is basically a raunchier version of the first film. Pretty much all the beats from that original outing are revisited here – the locker-room banter, the foul language, the pranks, the goof-off pullover montage … they’re all here. Again. Unfortunately, they aren’t really that funny this time around. Things get particularly lazy when they are content to simply reference a funny moment in the previous film and call it good; the most egregious example is when they bring back Jim Gaffigan to basically reminisce about his scene in the first movie. Seriously – the whole bit is Gaffigan describing what happened the last time.

Really, that’s a fairly apt summation of the entire experience. It was an hour of “Hey guys! Remember what happened in this movie that you liked nearly 20 years ago?” and 45 minutes of Canada jokes.

Don’t get me wrong – I laughed. But it was rare that I was laughing because of this movie and not because I was fondly remembering the first movie. Anyone who lacks that connection to the original is going to struggle watching this movie; it relies so heavily on what came before that it basically can’t exist in a vacuum. And that’s no way to win new audiences.

The performances, the script, the direction … again, the only word is “meh.” The Broken Lizard guys riff their way through their scenes in an all-too-familiar fashion. Returnees like Cox and Carter are pros, but they can only do so much. Aubois is fine. The Mounties are fine. And Rob Lowe seemed like he was genuinely having fun (watch for the speed bag moment). Some OK cameos as well – you’ll know them when you see them.

Obviously, there are people out there who wanted another “Super Troopers” movie – the IndieGoGo campaign connected with the film brought in millions of dollars – and those people are likely going to be more or less satisfied with what they get. But for me, it was a nostalgia trip that didn’t really live up to the memory.

Stoner comedy sensibilities rarely age well, so this probably shouldn’t have come as any sort of surprise. And it didn’t, really. The fondness of my recollection just wasn’t enough to salvage the “Super Troopers 2” viewing experience.

[1.5 out of 5]

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