Reel Shorts | Hamlet 2

22 08 2008

When a failed actor-turned-drama teacher is faced with losing his class, he hatches an idea for one of the year’s most outrageous theatrical productions in the hilarious comedy, “Hamlet 2.”

Steve Coogan headlines this story of frustrated drama school teacher, Dana Marschz who produces one failed production after another. Primarily remakes of successful Hollywood films, his productions are consistently ravaged by critic, Noah Saperstein (Shea Pepe) – who happens to be a middle-school student!

Things are not much better at home, where money is so tight that Marschz and his frustrated wife, Brie (Catherine Keener) share their home with a border, Gary (David Arquette) who is always around since he is only one with a car. Bored to tears and sick of living with the overly-sensitive extrovert, Brie constantly drinks far too much and between her stinging public insults, hints of taking her own life.

In a stroke of misfortune, a group of minority students from another school are placed in Marschz’s drama class and his attempts to relate to them highlight the culture clash between the “privledged” and the “hood.” Just as Marschz gains the students trust does he find out that the school board wants to eliminate his drama program. In a moment of inspiration (thanks to Saperstein), he creates his masterwork, “Hamlet 2” the sequel to William’s Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

When word leaks out to the school’s hater Principal Rocker (Marshall Bell), he immediately attempts to shut them down. He files a motion banning Marschz from showing the play at the school, much to the disdain of aggressive, foul-mouth ACLU lawyer, Cricket Feldstein (Amy Poehler). With some assistance from his students, Marschz finds an off-site venue that will help him realize his “sweet dreams.”

In one of the most creative and inspired casting decisions of the year, Oscar-nominee Elizabeth Shue is cast as . . . herself! Now out of the business, Shue works as nurse (and wears her uniform throughout the entire film) who hates the film industry but misses making out with all of former co-stars. Her chance meeting with the struggling Marschz may be the key for her to leave her medical gig. Not since John Malkovich satirized himself in the comical “Being John Malkovich” has a performance hurt so good.

Written by Pam Brady (“South Park”) and Andrew Fleming (“Arrested Development”), their script is chock full of outrageous laugh-out loud moments. After an impressive setup, their “Hamlet 2” production has to be one of the funniest high school plays ever caught on film. Featuring music from “The Gay Men’s Chorus of Tuscon” and tunes such as “Raped in the Face” and the bouncy dance anthem, “Rock Me Sexy Jesus,” this story of Hamlet traveling back in time to save his love is high satire on a grand stage.

Coogan, who had a brief but memorable role as the film’s director in “Tropic Thunder” is a frenetic ball of comic energy. His many expressions are almost “cartoon-like” in their animated intensity. Rolling around town on roller skates because he can’t afford a car, Coogan life is a “parody of a tragedy.” His play, described by a student as “something so bad it can be good” definitely fits the bill. While humorous in nature, the Brady/Fleming script really shines a light on the importance of arts in the life of the youth.

While not in the humor class of “Thunder,” “Hamlet 2” definitely is one of the top five comedies of the year and I’m almost certain that “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” has a legitimate opportunity of securing a Best Song Oscar nomination. The film asks the provocative question, “where do dreams go to die?” If they are as funny as the ones in “Hamlet 2” it doesn’t matter what happens to sweet dreams like this.

Grade: B+




One response

15 09 2008
elizabeth shue

[…] in the hilarious comedy, ???Hamlet 2.??? Steve Coogan headlines this story of frustrated drama schoo, Hamlet 2 is not that funny winnipegsun.comHamlet 2 is a funny comedy. It should have been a […]

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