Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
Written by:Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske
Starring: Brian Cox, Daniel von Bargen, Marisa Coughlan, Erik Stolhanske, Steve Lemme, Jay Chandrasekhar, Paul Soter, Kevin Heffernan
Released: March 14, 2002
Grade: B-

Broken Lizard are a five-man comedy group who originated by being a big hit on campus at Colgate University.  Their comedy routine saw them travel much on the road and this provided the inspiration for developing their own movie.  The five members, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske, based their movie in the style of Animal House, Smokey And The Bandit, Caddyshack and Cannon Ball Run.  By now you should have an idea what kind of comedy I’m talking about.

The quintet play the members of the Spurbury Highway Police.  They’re under the control of boss Captain O’Hagan (Cox) who isn’t impressed with the bad rap the unit is getting in the media.  There’s talk that the police station will be shut down and this is all good news for the local rival, the Spurbury Local Police led by Chief Grady (von Bargen), who will benefit from much additional funding.

The highway police are a crafty lot - they’re always playing practical jokes on those they pull over and they’re developing a bad reputation.  After a lady with a mysterious tattoo is found dead in a campervan and a truck is pulled over carrying a large drug shipment, the opportunity to impress and save the station may have presented itself.  If they can show up the local police in front of the governor (who just so happens to be dropping by) then perhaps they’re problems will be solved.

The film was made for just $1.2m and I give credit to the Broken Lizard team for not only making a decent comedy, but for showing you don’t need a billion dollar budget to make a decent movie.  After its premiere at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival, 20th Century Fox bought the rights to the film and released it worldwide.  In its first three weeks of release in America, the film has grossed $15m - a nice return on their investment.

I wasn’t rolling down the aisles with laugher but the humour is sarcastically funny.  I’d say for every joke I found funny, there was one that fell flat - about a 50/50 ratio.  The film seems destined for cult status very much like the films that inspired it.  Across the board, the cast are all amusing but the film benefits from the help of regular actors Brian Cox (Rushmore), Daniel von Bargen (Snow Falling On Cedars) and Lynda Carter (yes, TV’s Wonderwoman). 

This won’t be the first and last time we hear of Broken Lizard.  20th Century Fox has already commissioned them to make another film.  Are we looking at the start of something?