It’s about time we had a great comedy. There are always decent ones, sure, but it feels like it’s been a few years since we had one that really belongs in the modern comedy canon. Some people felt that The Big Sick was worthy of this kind of praise (though our review was more negative). But otherwise, you’d have to go back at least a couple of years. Movies like Neighbors and This Is The End may be on the fringe of lasting favorite status. But when was the last time we had an Anchorman or a Superbad?
Clearly this is subjective, and it’s up for debate. But it does feel like it’s been a while. I’m hopeful this will be changing in 2018 given that Super Troopers 2 is finally on the way. Now, I get that the track record for comedy sequels is generally abysmal. I get that the odds dictate this will probably be recycled and unfunny. But I also can’t shake the thought that not many better or more unique comedies have come out since Super Troopers in 2001. Maybe – just maybe – the whacky comedy group at the core of this movie, Broken Lizard, can find the magic again.
Helping to prop up this hope is my belief that Broken Lizard’s other content is actually pretty underrated. These guys have put together some absolutely ridiculous movies over the years, but they’re usually pretty funny. With that said, and out of pure excitement for Super Troopers 2, I wanted to rank these guys’ work (not counting the stand-up feature Broken Lizard Stands Up from 2010 or 2012’s Freeloaders, which the group helped put together but didn’t fully star in).
5. Puddle Cruiser (1996)
All I can say is that this is a weird movie once you’ve seen their later work. It’s kind of like hearing an old, pre-record deal demo from a band you like. It’s an extremely “indie” work (literally, but also in feeling) filmed entirely at Colgate University (which is the fictional Coburn University in the movie). My honest take is that it’s not that funny. However, fans of Broken Lizard should still check it out. If nothing else you can see the bond this group had even then, and there are shades of the trademark ridiculousness that makes their later movies so much fun.
4. Club Dread (2004)
This is a pretty messed up movie. It’s a mock slasher flick about a mad killer infiltrating an island vacation community, and it’s about as violent as it is funny. As one recap correctly pointed out, this movie follows the formula of a definitive crime story – most notably Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, a mystery so famous it’s got its own Nintendo Wii game. In other words, it’s a “whodunit,” killer-among-us movie. It’s actually genuinely, if goofily mysterious for a while, and the crew is on top of their game. Erik Stolhanske (Rabbit from Super Troopers) is particularly ridiculous in this one.
3. Slammin’ Salmon (2009)
This movie makes me a little bit sad now, because Michael Clarke Duncan guest starred and it’s just tragic that he passed soon thereafter. In the movie, however, he’s hysterical – a heavyweight champ running a seafood restaurant. The whole movie stems from his plot to generate enough restaurant income in one night to pay off Yakuza gangsters. He promises his wait staff (the usual crew) a false prize to get them to work their hardest, and shenanigans ensue. That’s literally the entire plot. But it’s actually a really funny movie. More than any other Broken Lizard film, this one is enhanced by outside guests, including Duncan, Will Forte, and Cobie Smulders.
2. Beerfest (2006)
I mentioned that some source material for Club Dread was famous enough to inspire its own game. Well, in this case Broken Lizard itself did the same… well, sort of. A “Beerfest” slot is included among new and unique game styles at an online site offering a whole range of casino games. And though it isn’t a direct adaptation, it’s probably more than fair to suggest the movie increases its player base. Congratulations, Broken Lizard. In all seriousness though, this is a really funny movie that blends a Dodgeball-esque take on beer games with the concept of Oktoberfest. The guys are an American beer game team in over their heads at an underground Beerfest in Germany, with their grandfather’s legendary recipe (and brewery) on the line. It’s hilarious from beginning to end. Particularly remarkable is that Kevin Heffernan, who was legendary as Farva in Super Troopers, might be even better as talented chugger Landfill (and his twin brother Gil).
1. Super Troopers (2001)
Finally, there’s the one that started it all (because let’s be real, we can’t give that label to Puddle Cruiser). I’ve basically already covered it. Sure it’s whacky and at times immature, but Super Troopers still feels hilarious and unique, and it stands out more than most any comedy that’s come out since. There’s a very high bar for the 2018 sequel – but I have this funny feeling they’re going to reach it.