‘Hamlet 2’: Good (not great) Dane

Wed, 09/03/2008 - 12:46pm
By: Michael Boylan

Let me start by saying the musical number “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” needs to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song. It’s a catchy tune, quite funny and better than any of the numbers in the “Hairspray” movie.

As for the rest of “Hamlet 2,” there are a lot of laughs but things kind of stall in the middle and things don’t pick back up until the musical production of “Hamlet 2” begins.

The plot follows failed actor and now failing drama teacher Dana Marchsz, played beautifully by British comedian Steve Coogan, as he attempts to stage a play to save the drama program at the Arizona high school where he teaches. Marschz has daddy issues and things aren’t great at home. His wife is always angry with him, they are struggling to have a baby and their finances are so bad that they need to have a roommate. Soon, the school announces that drama will be cut and Marschz will soon be out of a job.

Enter “Hamlet 2,” an original work by Marschz that attempts to remake the tragedy as a happy play and also work through the issue of sons forgiving their fathers. It is considered a lewd and blasphemous work, but credit the makers of this film with not revealing much, if anything, of the play until it actually begins. Even then, the audience in the movie theater just gets a confusing assemblage of scenes, not unlike what the audience in the theater of the play likely saw. It may not be a cohesive show, but it wins over enough critics that Marschz and his hard-knock students get the happy ending they deserve.

Coogan is brilliant, but Catherine Keener as his wife and David Arquette as the roommate are wasted. They aren’t completely necessary to the story and I think time might have been better served spending more time with the students. There aren’t a lot of big names among the students, but their performances are solid. Still, if the object was to spoof movies like “Dangerous Minds” or “Stand and Deliver,” they could have done more.

I did like the use of actress Elisabeth Shue as herself, now allegedly out of acting and into nursing, and I did laugh at a lot of things in the movie. It is a bit of a raunchy ride (one of the writers wrote for “South Park”), but the laughs don’t all come from dirty words or suggestive themes. You know whether or not a film like this is your cup of tea or not. If you think it might be, check it out. You won’t be disappointed.


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