‘Super Troopers 2’ director on bringing the cult film back 17 years later

"Once you cut the hair and get back in shape and grow that moustache, you fall right back into it"

You may never have seen Super Troopers. You may never have heard of Super Troopers. You may not have even been born when Super Troopers came out.

Released in 2001, Super Troopers is a very silly comedy about a group of absolutely useless state troopers (played by Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter, Steve Lemme and Erik Stolhanske, also known as the Broken Lizard comedy group).

It has an enormous cult following, so 17 years later, it has a sequel. We spoke to director and star Jay Chandrasekhar about why the hell you would do that.

For people who don’t know the first movie, what would you tell them to expect from Super Troopers 2?

“It’s meant to be a tough, funny movie. We’re trying to make movies that are macho. Moustaches, big R-rated jokes and nudity.”

The cult following in America is huge, and both films have been hits over there. How big a fan base would you say you have in the UK?

“There are quite a few [fans]. It’s been really gratifying for us. We really revere British comedy. The group’s structure and attitude is based on Monty Python, making different movies with different characters [Broken Lizard have made eight movies]. We’re enormous fans of the original Office… so we’re always looking over there to the UK. It’s nice to see our movies have a little dedicated audience over there.”

Is it nuts coming back to do a sequel 17 years later?

“It’s not as hard as you’d think. Once you cut the hair and get back in shape and grow that moustache, you fall right back into it. We watched the original movie and then fell back in. It didn’t feel that long ago.”

Have you changed much?

“We’ve done six movies in between. We’re still friends and we still tour together. We’re certainly in a state of arrested development. We all went to college together and we’re all still friends. It’s crazy to be friends that long. We’re bound together by this group… Show business is a cruel, cruel business and it’s nice to have your college friends around you.”

This film partly came about through crowdfunding, raising $4.7 million of its $13.5 million budget via Indiegogo. You must have been asked countless times through the years when you were going to make a sequel, but what was the point at which you finally thought, ‘Ok, let’s do this’?

“We’re in a period in Hollywood where the only movies anyone wants to make are where the main characters are wearing tights and capes. You think, well how do we compete in that environment? The answer is to make sequels. So we thought, ‘Why not make another Super Troopers?’ We know the fans are out there. We always wanted to come back, but this is a movie that studios could look at and think, ‘Yeah, that could work’. I told all the guys we weren’t going to roll camera until everyone weighed the same as they did on the first film. They might look at us and think we look older, but I’m not letting them think we look fatter.”

Did anyone struggle?

“I’m not going to name any names but there was a scene we shot early and one of the guys was a lot bigger than he used to be. I told him, ‘You don’t want that to be you for the whole movie’ and he got in shape.”

Did you all do big aerobics classes together?

“No. I just showed them the first film and said, ‘That’s what you’re going to weigh’. I want them to succeed. I don’t want them to read that one of them got fat.”

Both films have been well-received by fans but reviews were mixed. How much do you care about reviews?

“I care a great deal. The problem is reviewers think that it reflects badly on them if they say that a comedy is good. I’m not sure how else to put it. They believe they are there to review Oscar films only. On the first film, it was 35% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes (from critics), and audiences had it at 90%. I thought on this one we’d get more. I thought [critics] would think, ‘We got that one wrong, let’s give them the right rating this time’. Didn’t happen. 35% again [it’s now 32%].

“It’s painful, because we wrote 37 drafts. It’s painful because we went to some of the best colleges in the country. It’s painful because we’re trying to be as smart as we can be in the form of R-rated comedy. Some people are offended by something or they think they’re supposed to bash this kind of movie. I was shocked. We got a great review in the paper we all read, which is the New York Times. Look, if you don’t like this kind of movie you’re never going to like this kind of movie.”

Do you think it’s assumed something this silly is easy to make?

“I think that’s entirely the case. I think if you told Mel Gibson, ‘You have to make a comedy’, or James Cameron. I think they’d have a hard time doing a film like this. They’re just not easy to do. They require a different skill set.”

You must have a lot of celebrity fans. Have there been any famous people you’ve discovered are part of the Super Troopers cult?

“A few. Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, Cameron Diaz. There are all these people you don’t expect but they love it the same as any other fans. They smoke a joint and they watch the movie. It’s fun.”

Super Troopers 2 is in cinemas on June 15.