Hamlet 2 Reviews
This film is goofy as shit. There's no other way to describe Steve Coogan's performance or the premise as a whole. The film constantly puts Coogan's character up for ridicule, and Coogan commits wholeheartedly to each wacky moment. And who would've thought that David Arquette could play the "strong" silent type?
I've often wondered if a film about a character who has lost himself in movies would work, and in Hamlet 2 it does only to the extent of screwball comedy. There is little in the way of dramatic tension, and I think your enjoyment of the film depends on your tolerance for goofiness. If nothing else, it's impossible to resist playing the sing-along version of "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" one more time.
So - what the hell happened? This film is clunky and difficult and very hard to watch, painfully unfunny in places, but producing just enough laughs that you can't turn it off. Or maybe you can. Part of me would say, actually, that you should. I had to take a break and return for the ending a day later, and really, it wasn't worth finishing. The last line was interesting, though, given when I watched it (Jan 10-17, 2010): "No matter where you, it's always going to be better than Tuscon." I blame Sarah Palin. Yuk yuk yuk.
From the co-writer of South Park and Team America. NOTE: Not Matt Stone. Not Trey Parker. Pam Brady. Who? Exactly. Flashes of hope in this film, but ultimately, a huge letdown. I was pulling for a cult classic but this one just didn't deliver.
PS: David Arquette? Really? The eventual reason for his "just standing there" performance is evident from the beginning. Easiest. Paycheque. Ever.
Steve Coogan plays Dana Marchz, a washed up actor who is a drama teacher in Tuscon. His class is usually two students and his poorly attended plays are usually stage remakes of big Hollywood movies. When he gets a large influx of students he goes into Mr. Holland mode, even though none of the kids respond to him. It's not until the drama program gets eliminated by budget cuts that he gets the kids motivated by making an over the top sequel to William Shakespeare's Hamlet which includes a time machine and appearances by Einstein and Jesus Christ.
Hamlet 2 is not like watching a person stumble into something bigger and better than himself. He train wrecks into it. He sinks the Titanic into it. Dana's life is literally falling apart around him and this little play ends up a redemption tale somewhat with him ironically playing the role of a current trendsetter Jesus Christ who appears in the musical number "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" which will be in your head for days after seeing this movie. I'm humming it right now. The film accomplishes the parody of those mentor movies but ends up in the same place- giving something to their students, even if it is offensive and not politically correct. It's one of those movies that's funny, but it's not turned on trying to get laughs every five minutes. It gets them anyway. And no, I'm not giving this praise because of my Elisabeth Shue fetish.
Expected: 27 February
After what seems like ages, the Steve Coogan comedy finally arrives, more than a year after it premiered to great success at Sundance. The wacky yet sometimes caustic comedy of a failed actor-turned-nearly-failed acting teacher is packed full of belly laughs and a great cast that features Catherine Keener, Amy Poehler and some top notch newcomers.
Ah, how refreshing to find a comedy that isn't just gross-out gags, sentimental chick flick trash, or predictable Hollywood tripe... while Hamlet 2 isn't brilliant, and it isn't the funniest thing I've seen ever, it certainly carries its own, and this is largely in part due to Steve Coogan's performance.
Coogan is amazing as the fruity drama teacher who's life is falling apart. His shows are getting panned by a snarky underclassman, his marriage is falling apart, and he is totally uninspired. Through a series of events, he has an all-out crisis, but in a clever switch on the teacher inspires the students genre (Stand and Deliver, Higher Education), the students rally in their own way to help him create his masterpiece - Hamlet 2.
Hamlet 2 is ferociously politically incorrect, and this leads to the principal and some members of the community to try to close down the show, the ACLU (Amy Poehler!) gets involved, and the final performance of the show is a little bit mind blowing... ah, Sexy Jesus.
Yes, this is stuff we've all seen before, but Coogan's performance and his supporting cast, along with solid writing make this a Hollywood comedy that is actually funny.
Since it doesn't have any big stars, and it is a bit atypical, Hamlet 2 will probably fall by the wayside, but don't miss it if you've got the chance - there is hope for comedy yet!
Look out for: Musical moment Rock Me Sexy Jesus.
Steve Coogan stars in the comedy Hamlet 2, which follows a drama teacher who tries to put together a production of "Hamlet 2" to rescue his high-school theater department. Catherine Keener co-stars in the Andrew Fleming-helmed production.
Armed with long foppish hair, a non descript American accent of the kind you use for comedy sketches and a truckle of comic energy, Steve Coogan is likable, if not memorable as a failed actor turned drama teacher that rouses his troop of slack jawed misfits to stage his self-penned sequel to Shakespeare's opus, in an attempt to save his drama class from the axe. A self-conscious riff on the likes of Dead Poet's society, it combines vulgarity and stupidity to good effect in a formulation that will be familiar to fans of writer Pam Brady's work on South Park and Team America. There are lots of good setups ? Coogan's drunk wife lamenting the couple's fertility problems in a restaurant, Elizabeth Shue popping up as herself, having given up acting for nursing and the play itself ? including the memorable number '(I feel like) I've been raped in the face'. It's a quirky enough vehicle for Coogan to adapt his slightly awkward, self-important F-ed up persona for an American audience and there are laughs to be had, though occasionally it feels a bit laboured. Not the breakthrough Coogan may have envisioned but it won't do his stateside reputation, whatever that is, much harm either.
Like "Napoleon Dynamite", "Hamlet 2" features a lead character who's (seemingly) unaware of reality and his circumstances in life. Dana Marschz (Coogan) is a washed up actor (best known for herpes commercials and juicer informercials) turned high school drama teacher who's drama class is being cut from the curriculum because of budget cuts. His previous productions, all adaptations of famous hollywood movies (such as Erin Brockavich), were brutally savaged by the school paper's drama critic, so Marschz decides to write a play/musical that will save the drama program in the school. His class is augmented by a large group of troubled hispanic students who have no other place to go that period. Inspired by the movie, "Dangerous Minds", he decides to "reach out" to these students and soon a full-fledged production is undertaken for his new play, "Hamlet 2". The principle of the school of course objects to the subject matter (the play opens with an orgy scene, and includes such numbers as "Rock Me Sexy Jesus"), and shuts it down. Soon, the play becomes an example of free speech and is being covered in the New York Times and sparks the interest of the ACLU. Meanwhile, his home life isn't going so smoothly either, his shrewish wife (Keener-the exact opposite of her character in "40 year old virgin"), is trying to get pregnant and their roommate (Arquette) isn't helping matters either. This is a movie that hinges almost entirely on the lead performances. The jokes are mostly pratfalls and swear words. It's the lead character, and how he sells crazy that makes it work. He's playing a character who delves into wide-eyed, childlike wonderment at any given moment, then two seconds later is racked with emotion as tears are streaming from his eyes. It's a film that's neither overtly intellectual nor crudely dumb, but at times flashes brilliant examples of both. The musical/play sounds ludicrous enough until you see it at the end and then somehow it all makes sense. The emotional impact of this movie isn't necessarily readily accessible, and it's only after the 3rd viewing I am left an emotional wreck. It's the musical montage (of Jesus and Hamlet travelling back through time) during the actual performance of the musical play. It's a moment of realization, when you see the writer's influences (like the hollywood blockbuster) manifested on the stage. Like a sad clown singing out in a beautiful tenor, or the town drunk playing Bach on the piano in the back of the bar, it's a moment when art triumphs over circumstances. There are so many great artists in the world who you'll never know existed because they're regarded as kooks or flakes. This is for all those who've had to watch their artistic vision crumble in the face of adversity.