Broken Lizard’s Puddle Cruiser follows Felix Bean, a smitten young college student, whose entire life changes when he sees pretty Suzanne at a party. He immediately tries to impress her, but only ends up incurring the wrath of Traci Shannon, her rather large rugby-playing boyfriend from a rival school. He does manage to wiggle some of her affections away, enough so that she halts her go-nowhere relationship. Together, the two embark on a passionate love affair, but Suzanne still has difficulties letting go of …er old connection. Felix knows the attraction is purely physical, and that Suzanne finds himself a more suitable companion, but he still has his pride, as he so defiantly states, “No guy wants to hear another guy can kick his ass.” Especially from the woman he loves. So begins Felix’s completely out-of-character attempts at machismo. He even goes so far as to join the rugby team and refuse Suzanne’s pleading for him to pull out as the big match against her ex-boyfriend’s school draws near.
As romantic comedies go, Puddle Cruiser sounds just as formulaic as anything else in the same vain. But looks are certainly deceptive with this one. The laughs are more intense and come with greater frequency than Wedding Crashers and The 40-Year Old Virgin. (However, the latter does have the one exception with its tear-inducing chest-wax scene.) No hilarity to that extent here, but what Broken Lizard gives its viewers is still very funny. What sets Puddle Cruiser apart is how authentic each character is, and how down-to-earth the situations are. I could have sworn I knew each and every one of these people personally in my own college experiences, and any time a film can capture that quality and connect with its viewers, it’s a winner. Another particularly noticeable difference is how Puddle Cruiser manages all of its accomplishments without resorting to set-pieces (as in the chest-wax scene from 40-YOV). While I like a good set-piece as much as anyone, I feel Puddle Cruiser prolongs its “funny” lifespan by not giving in to the temptation. Since all humor falls within the confines of story, there are probably some overlooked laughs, and I welcome the opportunity for a repeat viewing to confirm. In the realm of comedy, I can’t think of a better compliment a film can be paid than that.
The 1:66.1 video presentation is a little soft. Colors don’t seem quite as rich as they should be, and the contrast is bland. It sort of resembles Porky’s in its look and feel – not plot or characters. Of course, all these issues are problems of budget rather than transfer. The downside is that Puddle Cruiser looks like a low-budget independent feature. Luckily, the script is smart and funny, and is executed by a group of top-notch actors, who deserve their current notoriety. I only hope we see more from this team soon. In the meantime, I am finally motivated to give Super Troopers and Club Dread a try.
The Dolby Digital Stereo presentation is no-frills, but gets the job done. Most of the film is dialogue, and that aspect of the soundtrack comes through nicely. Bass is mostly non-existent as are any background noises. The track keeps a strong level of volume for the main action, and that’s about all that can be expected for a film of such budgetary constraints.
There are trailers for the other two Broken Lizard features mentioned above, and a very interesting featurette entitled Rodeo Clowns, which follows this comedy team on their tour of university campuses while promoting Puddle Cruiser and Super Troopers. The featurette provides a fascinating look into guerrilla marketing and the smart ways it can be orchestrated for independent film. Rounding out the special features are two Broken Lizard commentary tracks.
Every now and then, this job uncovers some gems, where you think none exist. Such is the case with Puddle Cruiser. From the cover of the packaging, you may get the wrong impression that this is some goofy teen sex comedy derivative of other goofy teen sex comedies. Not so. There’s a rule in Hollywood that to break in, you must be better than the professionals. This means your first effort should be spot-on. After that, you can afford a few misses. With Puddle Cruiser, it’s no surprise the guys of Broken Lizard were able to break in. The disc’s A/V presentation could be better, and extras are a little sparse, but the film makes a purchase worthwhile.
Special Features List
- Broken Lizard Trailers
- 2 Broken Lizard Audio Commentaries
- Rodeo Clowns – featurette