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Movie Review: ‘Super Troopers 2’

A goofy sense of inconsequentiality is an underappreciated trait in comedies. There’s an abiding charm to movies so low in their stakes and so loose in their order that they feel as if at any moment they might fall apart. Films like “Caddyshack” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” are good examples, but outside of the loose absurdities of some of Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s films (“Step Brothers,“ ‘'Anchorman”) most of today’s big-screen comedies are more conceptually tidy.

The comedy collective Broken Lizard, though, are pupils of the “Caddyshack” school. They are in it mainly to amuse themselves, and smoke a lot of weed in the process. It’s a laudable mission.

Fittingly timed to open in theaters on 4/20 is “Super Troopers 2,“ Broken Lizard’s sequel to their minor cult hit, the 2001 original that introduced the troupe, formed in the ‘90s at Colgate University, of Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske. They went on to make a handful of other films and their director, Chandrasekhar, has helmed episodes of notable TV sitcoms (“Arrested Development,“ ‘'Community”), but “Super Troopers” remains their best-known (and easily their best) film, one propelled largely by its popularity on home video.


“Super Troopers” deserved the love that came its way. It’s about a station of prank-loving, drug-taking of Vermont highway patrolmen (all played by the Broken Lizard gang) who couldn’t take their jobs less seriously despite the efforts of their exasperated but lovable chief, played by the excellent Brian Cox — an 800-lb gorilla of an actor in a pleasantly featherweight comedy.

It was the movie’s fans that — through a surprisingly successful crowd-funding effort — pushed “Super Troopers 2” into existence, 17 years later. Such gaps have been death to comedies (“Zoolander 2” comes to mind) but nothing so dramatic befalls this still low-budget, still low-stakes sequel. The Broken Lizard guys remain amusing and likable. Their fondness for running gags hasn’t slowed down. And they can still get a lot of mileage out of guys with guns and mustaches in uniforms acting stupid.

But while “Super Troopers 2,“ also directed by Chandrasekhar and written by the troupe, may be just enough to satiate any remaining die-hards, it’s not likely to convert many new moviegoers to their syrup-swilling, “meow”-ing ways. The new film finds the group, having lost their police jobs after something ominous referred to as “the Fred Savage incident,“ recruited from their contracting and lumberjack gigs to patrol an area of Quebec that has been newly discovered, from an old map, to be rightfully Vermont’s. They are sent across the border, with Cox’s chief in tow, to take over policing the soon-to-be annexed territory. They are the face of the Canadians’ new, unwanted American overlords.

No one will say it’s the most original of plots, nor will anyone be much surprised at the avalanche of Canadian jokes to follow. Most are flat (including a disconcerting number of metric system gags) but some — like their pseudo-French impersonation of Mounties — are winning. Rob Lowe drops in to play a bordello-owning Canadian mayor, the Montreal-born Emmanuelle Chriqui (“Entourage”) co-stars as a French-speaking cultural attache and Lynda Carter returns as the Vermont governor.

In the time since “Super Troopers,“ the humor to be found in unprofessional police officers has perhaps waned. But “Super Troopers 2,“ retreating northward to the land of Canuck puns, has little interest in commenting on police brutality or much of anything political besides its underlying argument that a little criminality, but not too much, in life is good. They are anti-authoritarian authorities.

“Super Troopers 2,“ a Fox Searchlight release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “crude sexual content and language throughout, drug material and some graphic nudity.“ Running time: 100 minutes. Two stars out of four.

Movie Review: ‘I Feel Pretty

If you’ve ever walked into a store and were embarrassed to tell the salesperson your real size, or entered the gym locker room and wanted to hide, you’re part of the target audience for Amy Schumer’s “I Feel Pretty.” Whatever age or gender you happen to be.

Self-esteem issues related to body image are, without doubt, a social epidemic — a painful and dangerous one, for many girls and young women. And there’s nothing controversial about that message, though judging by some of the heated online reaction to the trailer for “I Feel Pretty,” you’d think the film was proposing a new conspiracy theory about JFK’s assassination.


The real problem with “I Feel Pretty,” written and directed by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein, is not in its message or conception, but in its ragtag execution. On the plus side, it’s often a pleasantly entertaining ride with the always appealing Schumer, and its heart is in the right place. It also features a truly terrific comic turn by Michelle Williams (drama, musicals, now comedy — is there anything she can’t do?) On the minus side, it muddles its message with an overstuffed script, choppy editing, and some unnecessarily over-the-top moments. Not to mention a sappy ending that actually comes close to contradicting its own premise.

Schumer is Renee Bennett, a young woman who looks in the mirror and doesn’t like what she sees. What she sees, is, well, Amy Schumer — and that’s one of the things that has annoyed some people, who say that if Schumer epitomizes unattractiveness, what about the rest of us? Still, the actress is plenty believable as an average-looking, Spanx-wearing woman who aspires to look more like the Amazonian supermodels she runs into at SoulCycle, and at the cosmetics company where she works, relegated to an offsite basement in Chinatown.

What’s less believable is the overly negative reaction of some of those around her. A pretty saleswoman immediately approaches Renee in a chic clothing store and says, “You can probably find your size online.” A baby even breaks into tears at the sight of her. OK, that’s a little much.

In any case, one day at SoulCycle, Renee has an accident. She hits her head — three times! — falls unconscious, and wakes up thinking she’s beautiful.

And therein lies another objection from critics of the trailer: Does a woman have to be knocked unconscious to think she’s beautiful? OK, but the movie is using that as a vehicle to show how low self-esteem clouds our vision of ourselves. Also, Renee doesn’t see some other, glamorous face in the mirror; she sees herself. And it’s fun to see Renee suddenly confident enough to go for that plum promotion at Lily LeClair headquarters, working alongside snooty CEO Avery LeClair herself (Williams, with long blonde hair and a hysterically breathy voice, perhaps a throwback to her Marilyn Monroe days.)

She gets the job. She also gets Ethan, the cute guy in line at the dry cleaners (a wry and appealing Rory Scovel). On their first date, engineered by Renee of course, they wind up at a bikini contest filled with supermodel types where Renee fearlessly flaunts her stuff. Afraid for her at first, Ethan quickly admires how comfortable she is in her own skin, and falls for her. Their relationship alone is a nice, simple lesson in trusting one’s own attributes.

But this film doesn’t stick with simple. It finds multiple ways to say the same thing. Another apparently budding relationship, between Renee and Avery’s rich and coddled brother, Grant (Tom Hopper), is toyed with and then seemingly dropped, as if the movie was just getting too long (which it is.)

Inevitably, things go astray. Renee offends her two buddies, Jane (Busy Philipps) and Vivian (an underused Aidy Bryant), by getting too big for her britches, metaphorically. And then, just when she’s about to hit real success on the job, something happens to make her see herself in the old way, once again.

But, as they do in romantic comedies, things have a way of working out. At least, for Renee. As for us, we’re left with one of those let’s-wrap-it-all-up scenes that reaffirms Renee’s special qualities — so far, so good — and then spills over into unmitigated sap. “What I am is ME,” she declares. (You half expect her to break out into that empowerment anthem of the moment, “This is Me” from “The Greatest Showman.“) What, she asks, would it be like if nobody cared how they looked?

Well, it would be great. But it’s hard to ignore that Renee is, at that moment, hawking a cosmetics line. And so IS it all about acceptance and loving one’s true self? Or is it about finding the right concealer?

It’s complicated.

“I Feel Pretty,” an STX Entertainment release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America “for sexual content, some partial nudity, and language.” Running time: 110 minutes. Two stars out of four.

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MPAA definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

What It Was Like to Make the Best Episode of The Office

It was a day that went down in comedic history: “On April 10th, 2008, The Office topped itself with its best half-hour ever—and perhaps the best comedy episode of the decade,“ writes Andy Greene for Rolling Stone. He’s referring, of course, to “The Dinner Party,“ and on its 10th anniversary, he spoke with the stars of the episode, minus Steve Carell, and the creative minds behind it on how those 22 minutes came to be. His article is replete with tidbits bound to satisfy any Office addict: The single change made to the script was ditching a part about Michael Scott’s girlfriend, Jan Levinson, intentionally hitting and killing the neighbor’s dog; “That One Night,“ the song by Jan’s assistant, Hunter, was recorded by New Pornographers guitarist Todd Fancey; Jan’s awkward dancing with a seated Jim Halpert was a move she intentionally surprised him with during filming; and Carell improvised the “snip-snap, snip-snap, snip-snap” line after being told the vasectomy scene was too heavy.

As for how hard it was to get through the filming of the episode without breaking into fits of laughter—which happened over and over, the cast says—Beth Grant, who played Dwight’s former babysitter Melvina, put it best: “I had to hold a beet on my fork and suck on it. I put everything into that.“ The cast also delves into how the Writers Guild of America strike affected things. It hit right before “The Dinner Party” was to be shot, and when the strike ended, the director who was slated for it wasn’t available. So Paul Feig was able to swoop in—and we have him to thank for the scene involving the bench at the end of Jan’s bed, which he explains was based in part on an experience he had while interning for a producer and getting a tour of a female staffer’s house, which featured a cot by the bed. Feig explains why it was “the saddest thing” HERE.

SNL Milks Surprise Cameos

In a romp down Meet the Parents memory lane, Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro crashed Saturday Night Live with a modern political twist—as President Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, and Robert Mueller, respectively. De Niro interrogated Stiller with the help of a lie detector, though his subject was more often than not forthcoming (“I’m Donald Trump’s lawyer!“ said Stiller. “I’ve got a whole hard drive that’s just labeled ‘Yikes!‘“) It was an sketch the New York Times calls “imaginative” and “uproarious,“ and yes, included one of the movie’s most oft-quoted lines. SNL alum John Mulaney returned to guest-host, while musical guest Jack White was, as the Times puts it, “a bit strange and disjointed—but this is Jack White, after all. By the end, it was a runaway freight train.“ Video highlights in the gallery.

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