2001’s Super Troopers is a legitimate comedy classic. It has a ton of quotable lines, the Broken Lizard troupe that wrote, acted in and directed it are all 100% committed to the insanity going on and, like Caddyshack, contains enough gags-per-minute to make you overlook the threadbare and utterly ridiculous and implausible story. The $18m in box-office revenue it brought in was respectable and sufficient to keep the team working on other films but not high enough to make a sequel a sure thing.
Thanks to a fundraising campaign, though, Super Troopers 2 is about to hit theaters. All the original troopers are back in a story about how a border dispute between the U.S. and Canada puts a small Canadian town under U.S. control, with the members of the Vermont Highway Patrol taking over law enforcement there. Of course since they’re more concerned with getting high and pulling pranks, hijinks ensue. So the question is, is there anything new the Broken Lizard team has to say. Also, will this movie in any way address how the first one is, in retrospect, filled with sexual harassment and police abuse “comedy?”
The first teaser poster wasn’t hugely revelatory, just showing the hat and sunglasses of the troopers with a “2” being made from a mustache. “The time is meow” we’re told at the top, which is the same line the team used during the fundraising campaign. Below the title treatment we get the obvious selling point that this is the sequel to the original cult hit.
The next one-sheet evokes one of the more memorable scenes from the original movie, using a shooting range target as the primary element. Bullet holes riddle the entire thing, hitting everywhere except the silhouette of the body the shooter is meant to aim for. The exception is one little shot that entered around the neck, but I wouldn’t worry about that little guy. The face on the body sports sunglasses and a mustache, just like the troopers all wear. The cast is named in the top right corner.
The next two posters continue making the case for this being the movie of the year. On the one, the troopers are shown riding the back of a massive bald eagle while hoisting the American flag Iwo Jima-style, having a lot of fun with these guys being the ambassadors of the nation and its people. The second tones it down a bit to just shows them standing on the highway in front of their cruiser, a beautiful sunset in the background. Both, though, use the same tagline: “The mustache rides, again.” Out*standing* comma usage there, guys. Outstanding.
The first teaser didn’t offer much in the way of story or plot, but that’s alright because that was never going to be the point. Instead it simply promises the audience that the years haven’t softened the love of pranks in Thorny, Mac and the others and that Rabbit and Farva are still going to bear the brunt of that. The only hint of the story comes at the end when we see a couple of them dressed as Canadian Mounted Police, but even that’s couched in the context of a call-back to the “Cat Game” scene from the first movie.
There are still a bunch of callbacks to the original in the first full trailer but they’re a bit less explicit. It opens with the narrator talking about how the team has been waiting for a second chance to prove themselves. They’re given just that when a portion of Canada winds up actually belonging in the United States and the troopers are sent to replace a group of Mounties.
So that’s the story, but it doesn’t matter. It’s just an excuse for a bunch of gags about French-speaking Canadians, having sex with a moose and taking drugs. The same dynamic seen in the first film is apparently still in place, meaning everyone hates Farva. It’s also hilarious, promising more of what everyone loved in the first movie.
Online and Social
The red-band trailer opens the official website, so take some time to watch it again if you like. On the front page then there are buttons to buy tickets and links to the movie’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.
At the top of the page the meager content menu has just a few sections. “Double Feature” has information on where you can watch both the original and sequel in one sitting. After that there are “GIFs” from both movies you can download or share on your social network of choice. “Videos” has both trailer and “Partners” has the companies who have signed on to help promote the film.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
A couple TV spots – here and here – were released around the same time that show the shenanigans the troopers get into. There are only slight nods to the premise behind the story. Mostly these are about offering as many jokes, including some of those that revisit gags from the original, as possible. Another series of spots followed later on as release got closer. Some of those spots were also used as social ads.
For a mid-budget comedy there were a surprising number of promotional partner companies.
- Arby’s, though I couldn’t find details on the promotion beyond a few vague mentions of an “Arby’s Truck” of some sort.
- Lyft, which through a partnership with Fox Searchlight promoted how it was offering free rides to those celebrating on 4/20.
- Hooters, which offered “Snozzberry Sauce” on its chicken wings and had a whole campaign to help promote the film.
- Zumiez, though that promotion wasn’t well-publicized either.
- Trimino, which is using product placement in the movie as part of its big coming out party.
- Totinos, also an oddly silent partner.
- Turo, which offered sponsored car safety tips in an effort that included some online promotion.
Media and Publicity
It wasn’t until a few months later when production actually began, giving the movie a nice bit of publicity bounce as the cast shared photos and otherwise celebrated the commencement of shooting.
Weirdly, Fox Searchlight put out a couple videos that were basically just compilations of clips from the first movie, apparently trying to get people ramped up for the return of these characters. There was then a longer video that had the cast talking about their favorite scenes from the original.
Members of the cast hit the promotional circuit to appear on talk shows as well as engage in their own activities such as podcasting and more.
Most of the actual marketing of the film is funny enough and works to present a movie that’s going to appeal to fans of the original. It works.
It’s hard, though, to get past the fact that whenever given the chance the focus turns not to this new movie but to the old one. All of those video sizzle reels that revisit the original, the way the trailers are stacked with jokes pulled from the first movie…it’s enough to make you concerned that this one doesn’t do anything new. If you’re relying that heavily on nostalgia, especially when society has changed so significantly that many old jokes are now seen as much more questionable than they might have originally been, it appears to be problematic.
PICKING UP THE SPARE
The journey the sequel took in the 17 years since the original is shared by the Broken Lizard team in this extensive feature interview.
I think I missed this earlier, but Vice talks about the crowdfunding that got the movie made and the subsequent data that went into the marketing.
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