For a reviewof “Super Troopers 2,”
In the sequel “Super Troopers 2,” a highway patrolman ( Kevin Heffernan) shoots and kills a bald eagle intentionally.
That’s the level of satire in a lowbrow comedy so irreverent it could almost be considered a subversive indictment of law enforcement, not to mention lowbrow humor. Almost, that is, if it were remotely funny.
Themovie reunites most of the cast of the 2001 hit “Super Troopers,” including director Jay Chandrasekhar (“The Dukes of Hazzard”), who cowrote the film with fellow members of the comedy troupe Broken Lizard, who play Vermont state troopers. Brian Cox returns as their grizzled captain, as does TV’s WonderWoman Lynda Carter, reprising her role as the governor of Vermont.
The fruit of this reunion is a raunchier version of the original, one that rehashes much of the first film’s silly stoner aesthetic, including locker- roompranks, preoccupation with male genitalia and a drug- smuggling subplot that, predictably, gives the troopers a chance to sample contraband.
The funniest bit is a recurring joke involving a female hormone supplement called Flova Scotia. ( I know, I know, but it’s funnier than a dead eagle.) Rob Lowe appears in a cheeky cameo as the mayor of a small Canadian town, his regional accent not nearly as cliche as those attempted by other castmembers.
Whilemanymovie sequels depict characters who have actually grown over time — “Before Midnight,” “The Force Awakens” and “T2 Trainspotting” come to mind — this one is stuck in permanent adolescence.
“Super Troopers 2,” a Fox Searchlight release, is rated R for crude sexual material and coarse language throughout, drug humor and some graphic nudity. Running time: 100 minutes. ½
It’s fairly common for nonfiction articles to be adapted for the screen, particularly when they detail events of extremedaring or heroism.
But“Kodachrome,” adapted by Jonathan Tropper, directed by Mark Raso, takes for its source material a short, poignant 2010 profile by A. G. Sulzberger in the NewYork Times about the people flocking from around the world to develop their Kodachrome film at the last remaining processor, Dwayne’s Photo in Kansas, before they shut down.
Around this premise, rich with possibility for plumbing themes of memory, nostalgia, art and family, is looped a very standard, color- by- numbers road movie, featuring a son, Mark ( Jason Sudeikis), and his estranged, dying father, Ben( EdHarris), ona road trip from New York to Kansas to process the final few rolls of film before the shop closes, and before Ben dies of cancer. Along for the ride is Ben’s comely nurse, Zoe ( Elizabeth Olsen), to administer his shots and provide some flirtatious intrigue forMark.
Ben is a difficult genius, a storied, legendary photographer, brusque and tough. In his diminished state he’s all prickly exterior, defensive and belligerent. Mark, a former musician and struggling A& R man, is trying to get his career back on track. He only resentfully agrees to drive his father to Kansas with the promise of a meeting with a lucrative act in Chicago.
“Kodachrome” hits every beat you might expect from a film of this formula, and right when you expect it, too. They roll into town to visit some familymembers ( Bruce Greenwood andWendyCrewson) and run right into unresolved issues fromtheir past. Mark and Zooey have their inevitable tequila- fueled romp ( set to Live’s “Lightning Crashes,” no less), and things fall apart, and fall together, right on cue.
The journey is the structure upon which Topper hangs some pertinent conversations about art, music, what makes a careerworth remembering and the nature of film and photography as it relates to life and memory. Ben is strictly analog, as he declares. HereveresKodachrome, “projecting with light,” and looks down on what he deems “data” and “electronic dust.” It’s a rather ironic position that he takes, considering that the film is premiering in theaters and on digital platform Netflix simultaneously.
Although “Kodachrome” yearns to achieve some sense of poignancy and meaning, its storytelling and characters are so rote and predictable that it never takes hold. Sudeikis is saddled with playing the tired character archetype of the privileged, yet for some reason melancholic white man who gets away with being a creep and jerk for way too long.
It’s a shame that the filmmakers chose to adapt the article with such a stereotypical story when the article itself is rife with fresh possibilities — a railroad worker developing 1,500 rolls, or an artist from London who flew to Kansas to process and shoot her last rolls of film.
“Kodachrome,” a Netflix release, is not rated. Running time: 100 minutes. ½
‘ I Feel Pretty’
“I Feel Pretty” suffers from a fatal flaw: its premise. Built around the notion that there’s something inherently hilarious — even crazy — about a woman not supermodelthin or gorgeous behaving with the confidence of one who is, the comedy treats its star, Amy Schumer, as if she were Chris Farley in the “Saturday Night Live” skit “ChippendalesAudition.”
In that classic sketch from 1990, the late actor— nearly 300 sloppy pounds of him— does a sexy striptease next to a nervous, insecure and very buff Patrick Swayze. It’s funny, because Farley, without his shirt on, and his blubber set in motion to Loverboy’s “Working for theWeekend,” is kind of, well, ridiculous.
But Schumer, although zaftig, is no Chris Farley.
Schumer plays Renee, an ordinary woman who wakes upfroma head injury with the self- esteem of Beyoncé. In one scene, her character dares to enter a boardwalk- bar bikini contest. It’s meant to produce gales of laughter but delivers mostly groans instead. In that set piece, Renee loses the contest but captures the heart of her beau, Ethan ( Rory Scovel), with her verve. Inner beauty, the film seems to be saying, is more important than rockhardabs.
Yet it encapsulates much of what is wrong with this comic misfire. “I Feel Pretty” tries to deliver a message of empowerment but it ends up pushing its pernicious opposite: If you don’t look like Emily Ratajkowski, the film says, a rail- thin model and actress who has a small role in the film, you’re unworthy of attention and love.
“I Feel Pretty” wants to have its cake and eat it too— to laugh at women because of how they look, while scolding us for doing so.
There are other problems as well. Co- written and codirected by Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein ( the writers of “Never Been Kissed,” making their directorial debut), “I Feel Pretty” presumes that conventionally attractive women are stuck- up jerks. When Renee asks a pretty woman on the street where she got her dress, and learns that it’s from Target, Renee whispers, conspiratorially, “Aren’t girls like us so lucky that we can shop anywhere and still look fly as hell?”
That Target reference — along with scenes that namecheck SoulCycle and Zumba and a plot that centers on Renee’s employer, a high- end cosmetics company preparing to enter the mass- market makeup business— lend the film not verisimilitude, but a sickly veneer of consumerism and brandworship.
Later, when Renee and Ethan are having sex and he catches her looking at herself in the mirror, he says— incongruously, given his own unpretentiousness — “That is so hot.” It’s a bit of a mixed message to suggest that superficial self- regard is both desirable and, later in the film, during Renee’s inevitable speechifying aboutinnerbeauty, deplorable.
But all of this would be moot if “I Feel Pretty” managed to be even remotely funny. Schumer, so incisive and so woke in early seasons of her Comedy Central series “Inside AmySchumer,” whichshecreated and which wonmultiple Emmys, seems to have gotten lazy. Beauty isn’t always effortless, it seems, but comedy is really, reallyhard.
“I Feel Pretty,” a STX release, is rated PG- 13 for sexual material, some partial nudity and strong language. Running time: 110minutes.
Ed Harris, left, and Jason Sudeikis star the Netflix film “Kodachrome.”