Arguably one of the best comedies of the twenty-first century, Super Troopers features a plethora of hilarious scenes and quotable lines that my wife and I still use on a near-daily basis. Setting the table is the film’s opening scene – a camera inside a moving vehicle and a title card telling us we are somewhere in Vermont, the film’s signature riff playing in the background. After a brief introduction to three stoned young adults in the car (actual adults who are young, not teenagers we pretend are young adults for marketing purposes) having an under-the-influence conversation every one of us can relate to, the driver notices a highway patrol car right on their bumper. Uh-oh.
In a panic, the trio try to dispose of the drugs they’ve been enjoying. They plead with the one in the back seat (Geoffrey Arend) to eat a bag of weed and ‘shrooms. His reaction to this, plus the look on the other two friend’s faces sets us off cackling in delight. Arend absolutely wins this scene, dry-heaving while bits of his impromptu meal show in his teeth. When his buddy in the passenger seat (Joey Kern) holds up a third bag containing weed, Arend refuses and his buddy tries to subtly dispose of the bag out his window. The moment this happens, the cops throw on their lights and pull the boys over. Uh-oh. Busted.
At this point, we expect some drug jokes or the guys trying to lie their way out of trouble, but the cops have other ideas. Officer Thorny (Jay Chandrasekhar) walks up to the driver side window, face straight, sunglasses hiding his eyes, asking for “license and registration,” his partner, officer Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske), standing by the front passenger side window. The driver (Andre Vippolis), starts to plead his case, but Thorny just repeats the directive. A quick glance around the vehicle shows the boys already struggling to hide that they are high and we know this won’t end well for them. But we can’t begin to guess at the direction this scene takes.
Glancing at the license in his hand, Thorny asks “Do you know how fast you were going?” Perplexed, the driver can only ask “what?” baffled that they aren’t being grilled for driving while stoned. Rabbit leans down into view in the passenger’s window and repeats Thorny’s question. Equally perplexed are we the audience. What is happening? There is no way we can look away from this scene now, so expertly crafted to put our attention into a vice grip.
The driver answers “sixty-five” and Thorny responds “sixty-three, actually.” Further confused, the driver asks “isn’t the speed-limit sixty-five?” and Thorny confirms it, then asks them where they are headed. At this point, we realize that Thorny and Rabbit are fucking with these guys and every subsequent random question has us laughing that much harder. But, neither we nor the kids in the car are prepared for when Thorny and Rabbit retreat to their car (when the camera blocks them from view) and slowly drive past, eyeballing the boys. As the driver so eloquently puts it, “am I fucked up or is this fucked up?” I think we’re all fucked up.
Already, this scene is brilliant, subverting our expectations while making every one of us relive that time in our lives when we thought our drunk/stoned asses were fooling adults into thinking we weren’t drunk/stoned. But, the scene isn’t done. Just as the trio think they’ve gotten away with it, even popping off about how awesome they are, the cop car slams on the brakes, peels out in reverse until it’s behind them, then peels forward until it’s on their bumper, Thorny on the loudspeaker demanding the boys pull the car over, despite the boys not actually having moved from the previous pull-over. At this point, we are either peeing ourselves or gasping for air as we howl in hysterics, the boys freaking out and desperately pleading that they are already pulled over.
The hilarity continues as Thorny and Rabbit repeat the sequence through the speed-limit question. At this point, the kid in the back-seat succumbs to the bags of drugs in his system, breaks the sequence, leaning forward and saying “I’m freaking out man.” At this point, the prank has run its course and Thorny reveals the discarded bag of pot and why they pulled them over. Just after announcing their punishment (making them smoke the remaining weed), a speeding car goes flying past them, transitioning the scene.
In addition to being gut-bustingly funny, the added genius in this scene is it sets up everything in the rest of the film. That the cops are bored and will play more pranks on unsuspecting motorists. The story revolves around the cops busting a drug ring dealing pot in the local community. That the humor is going to be fresh takes on old jokes, as well as many, many new jokes. This opening sequence deserves its place as one of the all-time great comedy scenes in film history.