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February 18, 2002 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-02-18

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At Michigan Theater
Nicholas Roeg's "Don't Look
Now" psychic horror flick.
It shows at 7 p.m.

2 rS

michigandaily.com /arts

MONDAY
FEBRUARY 18, 2002

A

SIR, STEP OUT OF THE CAR.

TROOPER TIME!

Funny, but
not so 'Sup er

Lizard trouper talks
'Trooper' & touring

By Neal Pais
Daily Arts Writer

Just minutes into Fox's new comedy, "Super
Troopers," the excited viewer may be disap-
pointed to find that the pre-credit introduction
contains some of the film's funniest bits. So sad
for a flick with so much comedic potential.
"Super Troopers"
* is the first full-fea-
ture film by the New
**York/Los Angeles
based comedy troupe
SUPER Broken Lizard, con-
TROOPERS sisting of Jay Chan-
drasekhar (who
At Showcase and co-wrote and direct-
Quality 16 ed the film), Kevin
Fox Searchlight Heffernan, Steve
Lemme, Paul Soter
and Erik Stolhanske.
Formed in 1989 at Colgate University, the outfit
had its first breakthroughs as a touring sketch

c o med y
a c t .
"S u p e r
Troopers"
is all too
indicative}
of this
more off-
beat brand
of comedic
exercise.
The film
is set in the
boondock'
town Of Our belt buckles have our names on them. Yer' all mighty jealous, aintcha?
S p u r b u .r y,

Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Vermont. Situated close to the Canadian border
and isolated from any sort of real crime, the
local highway patrol officers - Thorny, Mac,
Foster, Rabbit and Farva (played by the mem-
bers of Broken Lizard) - pass their time by
playfully harassing random motorists and
engaging in all
sorts of general
buffoonery. Hardly
models of law
enforcement, the
mustachioed
f patrolmen are all
redeeming, like-
able fellows. They
give the movie its
warm, if campy
charm.
The hijinx of the
Spurbury Highway
Patrol are rudely
interrupted, how-
ever, by a drug-
related murder and
evidence of a mas-
sive marijuana
smuggling opera-
tion. Under threats
of severe budget
cuts by the gover-
nor (Lynda
Carter), the guys,
led by their grizt-
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight zled but fatherly
captain (Brian

Cox), resolve to beat the Spurbury Police
Department (the token nasty arch-rivals) to the
solution to the case. Of course, the bumbling
troopers must overcome their own ineptness as
well as the dirty tricks of the SPD. Yes, it's pre-
dictable, but yes, it's also very funny.
Much of the plot line for "Super Troopers" is
in the vein of formulaic police comedies like
"Police Academy," yet the film derives most of
its appeal from the creative but lower-key antics
that fuel the fun. Some of the movie's highlights
are a trio of high school stoners who Thorny
(Chandrasekhar) and Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske)
"freak out" and a kinky pair of German car
thieves/lovers. The humor is somewhat lacking
in depth, but somehow maintains a pleasantly
innocent yet irreverent feel.
"Super Troopers" also stands apart from other
movies of its genre with its eschewal of cheap
and ubiquitous punch lines. The comedy always
has a thoroughly original style, relying on the
raw talent of Broken Lizard rather than the
film's more mainstream players. The film also
delightfully shuns the orthodox with its risqu6
inclusion of a masturbating trooper, a tripping
teen and other instances of hilarity on par with
the Farrelly Brothers.
It's always refreshing to see the triumph of
independent entertainment over the hastily
made, cheaply star-driven flops that clutter the
box offices. "Super Troopers" does indeed fal-
ter at times, mainly due its absence of celebrity
and its smaller budget, yet ultimately winds up
as one of those pleasurable movies you just
have to smile about.

Todd Weiser
Daily Arts Writer
Steve Lemme, a member of the
five-man comedy team Broken
Lizard that is responsible for the new
comedy "Super Troopers," was sup-
posed to be in Ann Arbor last month,
but the gods of weather and trans-
portation were not on his side.
"Our bus broke down about 45
minutes outside of Chicago," Lemme
remembers. "It was snowing, and I
don't know if that anything to do
with the actual breakdown. But we
were stuck there for about six hours."
Despite the breakdown, Lemme
and the rest of the team still got to
spend one night in Michigan,
although it is very much a blur to
him now. "We spent the night in
Michigan because we were supposed
to do some crap in the morning and
now I can't even remember if we did
it or not. What they say about being
on the road, with the days blending
together, it actually is true."
Broken Lizard's nationwide tour
visiting college campuses has more
than just this similarity to rock and
roll type touring. "We have a rock
and roll tour manager," Lemme
boasts. "He's toured with the Allman
Brothers, The Who, and when he was
starting out, he toured with Paul
McCartney and Wings. So he just
tells us all these sort of stories, and I
think he sort of thinks we're a bunch
of pussies because we don't do any-
thing crazy."
Despite the hassling by the tour
manager, Lemme is still enjoying the
college tour. "It's great, you know we
started in Seattle and making our
way across the country."
Part of the joy Lemme speaks of
stems from his great friendship with
the other members. The five guys all
met in college, started a sketch com-
edy group in New York City, and
slowly got into film. They've now
been together for about nine years.
"We're all great friends which
makes it easier because sometimes
you have creative differences and

you get into arguments. But it liter-
ally becomes 'Hey, well I think it's
funny,' 'No, well I think it's funny,'
'Yeah, well I know its fanny."'
The five friends also often hear
the legendary name of another five
friends, Monty Python, when they
are interviewed simply because of
their comedy troupe turn filmmakers
status.
"We're trying to do like a Monty
Python thing, not like in similarity
of material but just in terms of we
want to make a lot of movies and
work together."
Broken Lizard does not appear to
be slowing down any time soon, as
they head down to Mexico in a cou-
ple months to shoot their third fea-
ture film. Broken Lizard comedies
are not very plot based, rather get-
ting humor out of odd situations like
in their sketch comedy roots, but the
plot for the new film sounds very
apt for hilarious hijinks.
Lemme details their newest script,
"The five of us are all staff members
at the Sexy Singles Resort, like sort
of a hedonism place where all of a
sudden people start showing up
dead. And we have to maintain the
'rah-rah get laid attitude' while try-
ing to solve this mystery."
Lemme remembers the wonderful
times they had on the set of "Super
Troopers" and hopes the new film
will be even more of a good time.
However, the set of "Super Troop-
ers" had one benefit going for it that
the new film will not: Wonder
Woman.
"Lynda Carter plays the governor
of the state for the movie, and we
wanted to have like a woman who
was a '70s icon and she was at the
top of our list, being Wonder
Woman. And she just miraculously
agreed to be in the movie."
Most college students only know
Carter from television re-runs.
Lemme counters, "Yeah, we're a lit-
tle bit older than you. She impacted
our budding sexuality, so I think
everyone was blushing when she
showed up on set."

Watching their own movie in stitches.

Overly emotional plot, powerful issues
damn 'John Q' before it leaves the gate Ut s YOUR triMY

By Jenny JeItes
Daily Arts Writer

Powerful issues and strong emotions
mixed with poor character develop-
ment and mediocre dialogue make for
a second-rate movie - one that just
can't live up to its potential. "John Q,"
directed by Nick Cassavetes, falls into
this category. The emotional impact of
the story is the one thing at which it
truly succeeds, simply because the
issues addressed are painful and often
extremely controversial. "John Q"
poignantly
a addresses
the cor-
ruption
inherent
JOHN Q in our
health
At Showcase and care sys-
Quality 1.6 tem and
New Line how a
lack of
humanism can only lead to anger and
bitter struggle.
After John Q. Archibald (Denzel
Washington) and his wife Denise
(Kimberly Elise) see their son, Mike
(Daniel E. Smith), suddenly collapse
at his little league game, they soon
learn the devastating news that he is in
dire need of a heart transplant, and that
without one, he will have only months,
maybe just weeks, to live. Although
the family struggles financially -
Denise works at the supermarket and
John was recently laid off from a
heavy machinery plant - John knows
he has full insurance coverage and that
his son will surely be put on the donor
recipient list. However, the transplant
costs $250,000, and John is denied full

coverage, due to his being unem-
ployed. The insurance will pay out just
$20,000, which does little to alleviate
the problem of needing a 30 percent
down payment. While struggling with
the system and doing everything in his
power to raise the money (selling
everything his family owns, getting
church collections, etc ... ), his son is
getting closer and closer to death.
Surprisingly, this film is not all that
predictable, simply because the story
doesn't seem that unrealistic, so it's
actually quite difficult to know what
could happen. The problem is not that
the pace is slow; rather, it is that some
of the actors, except for Washington,
do a horrible job with their characters.
It's as if they are reciting an instruction
manual verbatim and have absolutely
no clue just how important their parts
really are.
Actors have lines for a reason. But
in "John Q" several of the supporting
characters, like Anne Heche (Rebecca
Payne), the one who has the authority
to put little Mike on the donor list, or
James Woods, who plays the insincere
Dr. Turner, make you flinch in
response to their crucial scenes. What
a waste. It's hard to take such an emo-
tionally impacting film seriously
when the doctor who coldly denies
John Q. any sympathy for his situa-
tion, all of a sudden proclaims in a
later scene something along the lines
of, "That's it! I will help you. To hell
with my career!" (The wording is
exaggerated, but the stupidity of the
line is not).
When John Q. locks himself up in
the hospital emergency room and
holds it hostage until the doctors put
Mike's name on the list, his action
stirs national attention, and practically
the entire city surrounds the hospital,
waiting for his next move.

Courtesy of New Line
"He needs a doctor!" "It's okay sir, there's one over this way, hold my hand." NwLn.

,F

HEY MICHIGAN
WOLVERINES, MAKE
YOUR CLIMB TO THE
TOP AWHOLE LOT
SHORTER. START YOUR
CAREER OFF AT A
HIGHER LEVEL.

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