1.18.2009

Movie Review: Hamlet 2

Starring: Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, David Arquette, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Shue
Directed By: Andrew Fleming
Written By: Pam Brady & Andrew Fleming
Focus Features, 2008
R; 92 minutes
2 stars (out of 5)

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As we were watching this, my husband said to me, "This is one of the most bizarre movies I've ever seen." That's really something, coming from someone who watches bizarre movies on a regular basis and counts Tank Girl as a favorite. As for Hamlet 2, we agreed that, even being told that the film is about a high school drama teacher (played by Coogan) who is a failed actor and so turns to writing and directing Hamlet 2 for his students . . . We wouldn't have expected what we ended up watching.

The story is mostly about Coogan's character Dana Marschz, aforementioned high school drama teacher. It's about not only his attempts to succeed at putting on a well-received play--Marschz spends a lot of time picking the brain of the student who writes bad reviews of his class' plays for the school paper--but about his unhappy wife (played by Keener and that includes a plot "twist" I saw from the first), his inability to get her pregnant, and mostly his terrible childhood, which is reflected in the play he ultimately writes: Hamlet 2.

The additional devices include Marschz being saddled with a bunch of uninterested Latino students who are only there because other electives have been cut due to budget problems, and Marschz attempting to save the drama program via his magnum opus--which of course gets shut down when the principal discovers it is "offensive." Which is to say, there is foul language, a song about "Sexy Jesus," and another about being molested as a child.

Hamlet 2 the movie--as opposed to the play within the movie--goes down the usual path of (a) Marschz falling off the AA wagon; (b) the students saving the play; (c) the show going on to great success. There's nothing new under the sun here, aside from the scenes of the play itself, and I have to admit that "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" is a catchy number. If there had been more of the play and less of the rest, I'd have enjoyed the movie far more. As it stands, I couldn't ever really feel sympathy for Coogan's Marschz; he annoyed me more than anything. The students were mostly likable, but because there were so many, no one got more than a surface scratch of characterization. Plot devices were rote and cliche. I've given Hamlet 2 two stars, though I could go as low as 1.5 and still feel okay about it. ~ZM

1 comment:

christinerains said...

I didn't care much for most of the movie except the actual play part. I would love to see the whole play itself! I had "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" in my head for days after that. *LOL*