Sixteen years after the release of Super Troopers, the Broken Lizard gang is back on patrol with the release of the long-awaited – and oft-rumored – sequel, the astutely titled Super Troopers 2, opening on April 20. The cast of Super Troopers 2 is going to be in Vancouver this Saturday March 10th to promote the opening with a special event at the Vancouver Just For Laughs Film Festival. Vancouver fans will be treated to a live standup performance by Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan and Steve Lemme, members of the American comedy troupe Broken Lizard, followed by an exclusive first look at select scenes from the upcoming film and a candid audience Q&A session.
Super Troopers grossed about $19 million theatrically in the U.S., but went on to find a massive audience on video and DVD. According to a 2012 HuffPost article by director Jay Chandrasekhar, the film went on to gross between $65-80 million in video and DVD sales, becoming one of the most successful independent films of all time.
Despite those numbers, the studios still had cold feet about doing a sequel, according to Steve Lemme, who played the mustachioed prankster Mac Womack.
“There was a feeling that maybe the audience wasn’t out there anymore,” Lemme said in an interview with The Interrobang. “We have been trying to do this since about 2008 or so. Things move slowly in the film industry. Ultimately, Fox said they would distribute the movie for us, but only if we raised the money for it. Truthfully, we weren’t that successful initially which is why we did the crowdfunding campaign that we did.”
Chandrasekhar, Lemme, and the rest of the Broken Lizard team (Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, and Kevin Heffernan) turned to Indiegogo, seeking $2 million to fund the project. The result was a runaway success. They hit the $2 million mark in just one day and went on to collect about $5 million for the project. Super Troopers 2 was off and running like Rabbit in a roadster.
Lemme said the success of the Indiegogo campaign was a big surprise.
“We were really nervous about it. Essentially you’re begging for money. That first day, everyone was really anxious about it because we didn’t know. I mean, what if we fell short of our goal and the studio was right? What if the fans are not out there anymore? It was incredibly nerve-wracking,” he said. “We got to a million dollars very quickly and then the second million came and it was relief and also incredibly humbling.”
The cast had an opportunity to than a few hundred contributors face-to-face as high-end donors were brought to the set and used as extras. “I found myself getting really emotional and choked up, meeting with the fans on set,” Lemme said. “You always hear artists say ‘It’s all about the fans. We can’t do it without you.’ But this is a case where we’re looking them in the eyes and saying thank you because we literally couldn’t have done this without them.
“Of course, then I’m there telling everyone a story and our campaign manager came over and asked if anyone wanted to get a picture with Rob Lowe and in the middle of my story everybody just bolted and just left me there with my finger in the air. It all gets put in perspective for you.”
The plot of the new movie sees a small section of Ontario discovered to actually be U.S. territory. The Vermont State Troopers are pressed into service to serve and protect a town previously patrolled by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
All five members of Broken Lizard reprise their iconic roles, including Heffernan as the crude, bellicose, liter-of-cola-loving Rod Farva. “As soon as we started writing, we started putting all of these crazy lines right into Farva’s mouth. Anything that was not PC we would just give to him,” Lemme said.
Also returning are Brian Cox, Marisa Coughlan, and Jim Gaffigan. Incredibly, despite the 16-year gap, the retuning characters have proven to be ageless, appearing virtually identical to how they looked in 2002.
“Our secret is a lot of moisturizer. Some of us just wash themselves in cream,” Lemme cracked.
Lowe, Lynda Carter and Will Sasso round out the cast.
Lemme said one of the biggest challenges in writing a sequel was finding the right balance of callbacks to the first movie without overdoing it and turning the sequel into a regurgitation of the original.
“You do want to have a couple of references or inside jokes but not too many,” he said. “We know that people like the pull-overs, so we should do that, but we had to find a way to work that in. A lot of people loved the cold opening of the first movie – it might have been the best scene in the whole movie. So we felt the pressure to try and top that. And that you meet fans at the live shows and things and they say, ‘Well, you better bring back the stoners, and you gotta bring back the local cops, and you gotta bring back Ursula (Coughlan), but you better not make the same movie because that would be stupid.’”
In the end, the team relied on their tried-and-true method of determining what to include and what to move away from. “It comes down to what makes all five of us laugh. If it makes all of five us laugh, then we’re pretty sure it’s going to be funny,” he said.
Lemme said the script for Super Troopers 2 went through 35 drafts before all was said and done.
Now that Broken Lizard has dipped into the world of sequels, it’s only natural to wonder whether or not there’s a sequel to Beerfest in the works, especially since Beerfest ends with a tease that Potfest would be coming soon.
“That ending with Potfest was meant to be a joke, but then all of these Hollywood stoners started calling up saying ‘Hey, I’d do that movie.’ Now more than ever, the timing seems right. We have people hitting us up on social media saying Super Troopers 2 is cool but how about Beerfest 2?’ We’ve always wanted to make Potfest but we also want to make Super Troopers 3, along with a few other projects we want to do. Super Troopers 3 might be our next project.”
Watch the Red Band trailer for Super Troopers 2 and if you’re in Vancouver for the Vancouver Just for Laughs Film Festival, join the Lizards live on Saturday, March 10, 2018, 7:00pm PT at Vogue Theater.