STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
MSRP: $19.98

RUNNING TIME: 102 Minutes
Commentary by Jay Chandrasekhar and Kevin Heffernan
Commentary by Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske
Rodeo Clowns featurette

Broken Lizard has come a long way from handing out flyers on college campuses and begging people to come see their independent movie. They’ve got a bona fide cult classic under their belts with Super Troopers and had a Hollywood hit with The Dukes of Hazzard. Even the pounding Club Dread received at the box office and from critics has done little to slow them down. Now comes the moment when a group really knows they’ve made it – when a studio is eager to distribute your early films that they wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole before you got famous.

Puddle Cruiser is the first full-length independent feature from Broken Lizard. It did well at film festivals but failed to get picked up for distribution. The film was made on a miniscule budget and filmed at the group’s alma mater, Colgate University. As usual, all five members star in the film and Jay Chandrasekhar directs. For fans of Broken Lizard, Puddle Cruiser is an interesting movie that demonstrates the group’s potential and hints at what would come in their later movies. On the other hand, viewers looking for a hilarious movie might be disappointed by this freshman effort.

Spurned by the studios, Brett Ratner brings his vision of Superman to the stage.

The Flick

Felix Bean is an average guy drifting through college. He spends most of his time messing around with his friends, hitting them in the face with bats and breaking into the school cafeteria with them. He attends a party and becomes smitten with campus beauty Suzanne. Felix’s looks and charm manage to win him the affections of Suzanne, who is currently dating a muscle-bound bully by the name of Traci Shannon. In order to prove that he’s just as manly as Traci, Felix joins his school’s rugby team. Unfortunately for him, Traci is also a rugby player at a rival school and is eagerly anticipating the opportunity to brutally harm him.

Felix’s friends lend their support but have their own problems to deal with. Zach has a thing for a star athlete at the school and gets her phone number, but only six digits of it. Now he only has to dial a hundred permutations of the phone number in order to contact her. Grogan and Matt get busted breaking into the cafeteria and trying to smuggle pancake mix out in their pants. They’ve got a case in student court to prepare for. Freaky Reaky dispenses sage advice from behind the student mail slots and is in fervent pursuit of Emily, a girl who tries everything but excels at nothing.

The plot summary makes the movie seem like it’s got enough characters to keep a fast pace going, but the truth is that the film drags along so agonizingly slow that even the funny jokes can’t improve the mood. The chief problem is that the main plot just isn’t that interesting. The entire conflict of Suzanne having to choose between Felix and Traci would barely be meaty enough to work for an episode of Saved By The Bell, let alone an entire feature film. The boring story isn’t helped by Steve Lemme, who instills Felix Bean with all the personality of a piece of cardboard. The members of Broken Lizard obviously weren’t the most comfortable of actors at this point.

The exciting conclusion of Marine Ins. Co. of Alexandria v. Wilson.

The supporting cast is much more entertaining but the film never gives them enough attention. Hefferman and Soter steal each and every scene they appear in and are responsible for all of the film’s funniest moments. They also appear in the least amount of scenes. Chandrasekhar is the straight man friend of Felix but hasn’t quite figured out how to sound deadpan instead of half asleep. Stolhanske is the most comfortable in his role, but then again he’s playing a cartoonish character instead of a typical college student. Freaky Reaky is a combination of the wise janitor from every ‘80s movie and the drugged out stoner from every college movie.

Broken Lizard movies have traditionally had an odd quality about them that makes them improve with repeated viewings. Many people didn’t think much of Super Troopers on their first viewings but grew to love the movie more and more each time they saw it. The same was true for Club Dread but to a much lesser extent. It’s doubtful that the same thing will happen when people watch Puddle Cruiser.

The film simply isn’t nearly as funny as Broken Lizard’s latter efforts and the delivery isn’t there for the jokes that could have potentially been funny. The only scenes in this film that merit viewing over and over again are the Hefferman/Soter scenes. The courtroom scene in particular is one of the funniest bits the group has done in any of their films.

Puddle Cruiser is an impressive first effort by Broken Lizard considering its budget and how hard they worked to try and make it a success. That same dedication to self-promotion and filmmaking helped with Super Troopers, but that film’s success also came about because it was a great comedy. Puddle Cruiser wasn’t. It’s worth a viewing to see the film’s few hilarious moments, but don’t expect many nights of revisiting this film with friends unless you like uncomfortable silences.

5.0 out of 10

I’ll give you a beer if you promise to tell your friends that Club Dread is hilarious.

The Look

Puddle Cruiser is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 widescreen. The transfer is well done but the source material itself isn’t too hot. The Broken Lizard members even point how faded and washed out the film looks at times on account of the low budget.

6.0 out of 10

I’d rather the judment come now and destroy the Earth than be this guy’s roommate.

The Noise

The film is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with optional English subtitles. This is a low budget, dialogue heavy film that would have absolutely no need for a 5.1 track. The film probably sounds better here than it ever did in college campus theaters, where the group had to deal with projectors eating the film and fuzzy dialogue.

7.0 out of 10

It’s a little known fact that that balding people are worshipped in some cultures. People hug them in hopes of inheriting some of their balding powers.

The Goodies

All of the Broken Lizard members are present to comment on their first feature. Unfortunately, they’re not all together. The disc contains two commentary tracks, each with different group members. Both tracks are remarkably similar, with the members reminiscing about their college days and pointing out friends and family throughout the film. The only member who jokes around much is Hefferman, who is paired up with Chandrasekhar. The combination of Hefferman’s jokes and Chandrasekhar’s input as the film’s director makes it the better of the two tracks.

The other big extra on the disc is a few scenes from the forthcoming documentary Rodeo Clowns. The documentary follows the Broken Lizard crew on their Puddle Cruiser Campus Tour where they tried their hardest to promote the film. The documentary follows them all the way up to Super Troopers, for which they used the same promotional technique. This 15 minute preview of the documentary is infinitely more interesting and entertaining than the feature itself. It would have been nice to have the entire documentary on the disc, but FOX seems content to milk the Broken Lizard name for all its worth and sell the documentary on its own.

6.0 out of 10

The sock hops were gone and the hot rods were dead, but still Fonzie refused to give up the ghost.

The Artwork

What does a cheerleader’s midsection have to do with this film? Nothing at all. Puddle Cruiser continues the trend that Club Dread seems to have started – uninspired cover art with a plug for Super Troopers prominently featured. They might as well have slapped “If you loved Super Troopers, please buy this one too!” on the cover.

3.0 out of 10

Overall: 5.5 out of 10