Broken Lizard, Broken Down [REVIEW]

For those who don’t know, Broken Lizard are an American comedy troupe, made up of 5 guys;  Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske. The group started out when they were all at college together and grew to write, star and produce a number of movies together. Now, I was aware of Broken Lizard, and had seen Super Troopers a fair few times, but never dived much further into their material. This week I’ve been catching up with their work and now have seen all 5 of their films. They have produced a few other films, but for now I have stuck to only those they wrote and starred in. So for this post I’m going to give a quick review of each film in reverse order leading to my favourite film.

BROKEN-LIZARD5. Coming in at number 5 is, Puddle Cruiser. This was the groups first feature film, funded almost entirely by themselves, and shot on their old college campus. The film follows a few different stories, from Steve Lemme’s up and down relationship with the lovely Suzanne, from Kevin Heffernan and Paul Soter’s trial for stealing from the kitchens, to Jay Chandrasekhar working through 80 possible phone numbers to get the girl.  Erik Stolhanske sees the least amount of screen time, but uses his time effectively as Freaky Reakey, providing some of the biggest laughs in the film. This might be the lowest in my list, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad film. It is obvious that this is the groups first film, it feels very independent and at times shows some inexperience. But, as a self funded project this is a very funny film and got the group firing to produce some fantastic comedies. In fact if you’re interested in hearing how BL catapulted from Puddle Cruiser to Super Troopers, give Fat Man Little Boy a watch, to find out. A solid first effort – 6.5/10

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4. Number 4 is Beerfest. Two German-American brothers discover an underground Oktoberfest fight club when they go to spread their grandfather’s ashes – taken in by the competition they strive to put together an American team, to return and stick it to the Germans.  This film is lower down on my list, as whilst funny, doesn’t quite provide the laughs like some of the groups other efforts. At times the film did feel a little slow, but quickened the pace when needed to keep me interested. What’s great about the BL films is, that it would be easy for them to fall into the trap of making the same film over and over again, yet each one is very different and showcases the talent of the actors to pull off a variety of roles.  Beerfest has a relatively simple plot, and pushes it a little bit by running for an hour and 40 minutes – this might have featured a little higher on my list had it been 20 minutes shorter, so the laugh to running time ratio was a little closer.  7/10

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3. Club Dread. This was the film I had the lowest expectations for, but was very pleasantly surprised. A slasher parody, the film revolves around a paradise island owned and run by has been music star, Coconut Pete. As the last group of tourists arrive for the holiday season, a vicious serial killer is on the loose and picking off the staff members one by one. The film is very funny, and does keep you guessing as to who the killer is. Another set of totally different characters, and also supported well by Bill Paxton and the very hot Brittany Daniel, this film moves at a nice, fast pace and whilst maybe not the funniest from BL, brings plenty of laughs. 7.5/10

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2. The Slammin’ Salmon. Set in the restaurant of former world heavyweight boxing champ, Cleon Salmon, the waiting staff must bring in $20,000 in one night or else lose their jobs. Michael Clarke Duncan shines in this film, he is incredibly intimidating, and outrageously funny! In my opinion this is closest to the comedy of Super Troopers, and as the groups most recent film (that they wrote and starred in) shows they are back on the up and up (not that the were ever on the down). Cobie Smulders and April Bowlby add to the comedy in this film, but it really is the Broken Lizard show. With each member getting a pretty even amount of screen time, everyone gets a chance to shine, and they all use the time effectively. Heavily underrated, more people need to see this film, although it has been out 4 years, I feel like this has the potential to gather a cult following the way Super Troopers did. 8/10

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1. Super Troopers. This was the second film the group put out, and the first BL film that I saw, and remains to be my favourite. What I love about this film is that it is just so silly. It’s guys, being guys, and just having a good time messing around – which really plays to my sense of humor. Super Troopers is probably the most quotable of the 5 films, and although didn’t perform overly well in the cinemas when it was released, has established a cult following, which is absolutely deserved – it is a comedy classic. Whilst the other 4 films are funny, ST brings the laughs thick and fast, and for me is the stand out performance for the group. The difference between Puddle Cruiser and Super Troopers is huge – from a production aspect, and if you didn’t know the order of the films, you probably would peg this as the latest from BL as it feels the most complete film produced by the group. This is a must see for any comedy fan. 9/10

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Broken Lizard are definitely worth looking into if you haven’t already. And on top of these 5 films there are a few standup specials to take hold of as well, Fat Man Little Boy, and Broken Lizard Stands Up (which I unfortunately cannot find anywhere to watch it!). Also if your a fan try the Fatty and Tatty mini series on YouTube.

Word has been flying around about a number of future projects coming from Broken Lizard, including a much anticipated Super Troopers sequel, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what the group will bring to the screen next!

 

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