A critically panned film that debuted at #9 at the box office upon its release, Super Troopers eventually found its audience, becoming a cult classic with a fanbase passionate enough to crowdfund a sequel. Last month, 17 years after the debut of its predecessor, Super Troopers 2 finally hit theaters. Although some reviews, including our own, found that there is fun to be had with the sequel, especially for people who like the original, Super Troopers 2 was met with generally negative reviews overall. For director Jay Chandrasekhar, who went through a hellish process to get Super Troopers 2 made, the bad reviews just don't make sense to him, as he explained:
Well, I gotta tell ya, man. The first Super Troopers had a 35% [critical] rating and a 90% audience rating. And I thought on this movie that the critics would say, 'Well, we got that one wrong. Here's our chance to make up for it.' But that didn't happen. What can you do? I think people get tired of movies when they see too many. I don't know what to say [laughs]. I just don't know what to say. We worked very hard on that movie. We wrote 37 drafts of that thing. It's a good movie.
Jay Chandrasekhar's hope here seemed to be that critics who were perhaps on the wrong side of history with the original film, given its eventual cult classic status, would view the sequel more favorably and with an open mind. Clearly that did not happen, as Super Troopers 2 currently sits at 34% on Rotten Tomatoes. That's about on par with the first one, although the audience score (a less scientific metric), for what it's worth, is lower than the original, resting at 72%. That is still favorable, meaning that audiences who sought it out generally liked it, even if for some it didn't live up to the original and over a decade of anticipation.
It is readily apparent how much hard work Jay Chandrasekhar and the Broken Lizard crew put into this movie to deliver something that they are proud of for the fans. So it has to be difficult to have such a labor of love receive generally bad reviews. I do find it somewhat sad that you can tell that Jay Chandrasekhar is disappointed that the critics didn't embrace the film. Speaking with Business Insider, Jay Chandrasekhar sounded somewhat dumbfounded by the bad reviews, but resigned to them, saying:
I cannot tell you what happened. Except that some of them just don't like that movie. They also don't like that kind of movie, you know? It's that kind of movie that seems to bug them. And all us comedy filmmakers, we have to suffer the brunt of that for some reason. But that's the way it goes.
It is clear that the critics didn't like the movie, but as Jay Chandrasekhar notes, Super Troopers 2 isn't exactly the kind of movie that critics normally take to. Vulgar, stupid humor can occasionally win over critics, but this doesn't frequently happen. I generally don't like when filmmakers say that a movie wasn't made for the critics, since it sounds like an excuse, but this type of movie really isn't critic friendly and that's ok. The real test for Super Troopers 2 was always going to be what the fans thought. I'm not sure it could be a positively reviewed movie and still be Super Troopers.
It is hard to say if negative reviews diminished the box office at all for Super Troopers 2. I imagine that most people who liked the first film and wanted to see the second film were going to regardless of the reviews. Super Troopers 2 beat expectations in its opening weekend, earning $15.18 million and currently sitting at a total domestic haul of $27.4 million. It's hardly a king's ransom, but given the film's $13.5 million budget, that's not an insignificant sum. If you liked the original, Super Troopers 2 is worth checking out, as it honors its predecessor, but it is definitely not for everyone.
Super Troopers 2 is currently in theaters. Maybe it too will build its audience over time. Should a third film come to pass, there will be another chance for positive reviews, but I wouldn't count on it.