Hamlet 2 (2008), or High School Theater’s Great White Hope

12 02 2009
This movie has one of my all time favorite getting raped in the face songs!

This movie has one of my all time favorite "getting raped in the face" songs!

Hello, all! Well, this is I think my first comedy, so let me preface by saying that I am a big fan of comedy as long as it is done right. But there are so many bad comedies out there it hurts. Unfunny comedies are the worst. It doesn’t get much more depressing than that. And much like a back-alley abortion from Chuck Norris (given with his beard), you’re never the same afterward. You’re always just a bit more cynical than the last time, a little less likely to laugh. So when I watch something like Scary Movie 4 or Duplex, the little child inside me gets smacked with a belt made of razors and vampire fangs. But still I can laugh. Still I have a bit of whimsy left, and it becomes useful for times like this when a movie like Hamlet 2 comes out. I can rip the vampire fangs out of my swollen blood-encrusted back, sit down, and laugh my ass off.

Dana Marschz is a high school theater teacher living in Tuscon, Arizona. Not much theater going on there, believe it or not, so Dana is not too enthused about life. He has to teach a bunch of inner-city, typically underwhelmed kids who don’t care about the class (with the exception of two overtly excited students), his wife Brie constantly looks down on him and patronizes him, and worse yet the school is going to shut down the class at the end of the semester. Things are not looking great when inspiration hits for an original play that he hopes to translate to the stage with the help of his class. The only problem is that the play is completely insane. A musical sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet involving time travel, Jesus, and face-rape, it doesn’t seem like your average school play. The parents and the school don’t want him to do it for obvious reasons. Can Dana pull this off and save the drama department? Can he inspire his students to give a damn about the class? And what about Jesus?

Steve Coogan is the MAN as Dana! I love this pseudo-psychotic plucky little British man! When he is given free rein to do what he wants to do, this guy can be really really funny. It seems like there are a number of ad-lib takes that they left in Judd Apatow-style. I want to see him in more American movies, but perhaps even more unfettered than he is here. The rest of the cast is not so much on par as much as they foil Coogan’s magic. David Arquette is in here, and every time he talks, they treat him the way I feel people treat him in real life; as if he is the dumbest man in the world. He is a walking scorn receptacle, and I have no problem with tossing my little bit in. Catherine Keener plays Dana’s wife Brie, and she is a horrible bitch, but she has her dry moments of biting humorous cruelty. Amy Poehler has not been funny since the Upright Citizens Brigade was canceled. End of discussion (UNLESS YOU WANT TO LEAVE A COMMENT IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!!!!!).

The writing is good, but I almost feel like they could have gone farther than they did. “Rock Me Sexy Jesus”, one of the songs in the musical, felt a bit tame. Certainly Jesus is controversial, not to mention his followers being my own personal scorn receptacles (“I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there!”), but nowadays, especially from one of the writers of Team America: World Police, I expected something a little more risque, something as wild as they looked to be going for. Nevertheless, the comedy works, I’m sure with thanks in no small way going to the writing team and the good timing on the part of not only the cast but director Andrew Fleming. The jokes don’t stop for very long, and mostly they are fresh, and you don’t see them from a mile away.

Go check it out. It’s a strong comedy that is only likely to offend if you have a stick up your ass, in which case you might want to have that looked at before you go watch another movie. It’s a hilarious, if slightly tame, take on the normally depressing world of high school theater that should be watched at least once just to see Steve Coogan shine. I give Hamlet 2 7 1/2 unfunny Amy Poehlers out of 10.

Tomorrow we take time out for a Night Out, where we explore the quirky animation of Coraline!

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18 07 2013
Kenton

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