Kevin's Review: Hamlet 2 - Definitely Not Shakespeare, But Worth It All the Same
by Kevin Powers
August 23, 2008
His role as faux film director Damien Cockburn in Tropic Thunder was fleeting and forgettable, but Brit funnyman Steve Coogan is the sacrilegious heart and soul of Hamlet 2, a film as offbeat, laughable and endearing as the play it portrays. As the failed actor, Dana Marschz, who resorts to teaching high school drama in Arizona, Coogan is positively hysterical, beaming optimism at every obstacle - a disposition that nearly smacks of mental disability. Coogan's unique delivery and wit is something you'll either embrace up like Jesus' love - Coogan, after all, does play the messiah in "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" - or, like pleated khakis, it may not be your particular style. Hamlet 2 is arguably Coogan's coming out party, speaking strictly in terms of his stateside career. The comedian has been around for some time across the pond, but largely has gathered small roles domestically - literally, as thumb-sized Octavius in Night at the Museum.
Written and directed by Andrew Flemming (Nancy Drew of all things) along with South Park-writer Pam Bady, Hamlet 2 surrounds Dana's struggle to keep his drama program alive in the face of school cut-backs. The former commercial actor never helped secure much relevance for the program, being that the department was made up of two humdrum drama students who shelved anything considered classic and enacted plays based on mainstream blockbusters. (Coogan joked recently that following the department's "Hamlet 2" production, they probably would have tackled FX's "The Shield.") The department grows exponentially when another school program is canceled and a group of what most would consider "inner-city youths" joins the awkward threesome. From there, we witness a sequence of scenes that is in many ways Coogan's own take on Dangerous Minds.
Through Coogan's quirky style, his character breaks down the walls of culture and drama-stigma, bonding with the new students to come together and hold a final unlikely production in the hopes of saving the department. "Hamlet 2" draws the ire of the high school higher-ups due to its "modern" approach to the subject matter, and the play is subsequently canceled. Not unlike organizing a rave, the resourceful students find a warehouse and equipment to host the production instead. Through obligatory missteps and setbacks, the play goes on, even with a good part of Tucson in attendance.
As Dana fights to save his department, he also fights to save his marriage. The butch, brass Katherine Keener plays Coogan's wife, Brie, who is less than happy with her husband's melancholy career, especially since it's forced her to take on a boarder, spoon-sharp Gary, played by David Arquette. Dana's life is in disarray on all fronts, which makes Coogan's half-glass-full performance all the more disturbingly funny. Hamlet 2 is all about Coogan's particular style of comedy, which in my mind, is unflinchingly ardent and first-rate. A cameo by Adventures in Babysitting fave Elisabeth Shue (as herself, no less) and a religion-offending jingle makes the film one of the most eccentric and earnest comedies this year. For anyone who is a Coogan fan, you simply must see it. For those who might be meeting him for the first time, Hamlet 2 is definitely the introduction to Coogan you need.
Reader Feedback - 8 Comments
I saw this with a group of friends and we all found this middling at best. We were not offended at all, but it seemed average if not below. We all have different types of humor so we are all not the same, but it didn't seem Oscar-worthy at all aside from maybe Best Original Song. There were some funny parts and memorable ones, but nothing extraordinary as it seems to be made out to believe. We also all had different expectation-levels too. On average my group of six we went with gave it * out of **** to **1/2 out of ****. It was surprisingly on the biggest screen, but it was EMPTY. The theater is always busy and it is a big 24 screen one to that also specializes with indies too. Looking at Boxofficemojo it wasn't only my thewater that didn't have a great turnout. It looks like even DEATH RACE will have a higher PTA so that will probably effect its expansion plans.
Ryan on Aug 23, 2008
One of my favorite parts was when Coogans head got blown off. Oh that was Tropic Thunder. Doah
790 on Aug 24, 2008
WHAT, ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!! WHAT MOVIE DID YOU SEE??!! This movie is horrendously awfull!!! Don't waste your money!!!! There are few funny moments, you don't care one bit about any of the characters, Catherine Keener just needed a paycheck, Amy Poehler shows up to save the day and has no purpose after that, and by the time "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" is performed you find it hard to laugh. Mainly because everything before it just pummels you in the head with pointlessness! So many scenes that are meant to end with a climactic joke fall awkwardly flat. We were shocked at how painfully bad some of those intended yucks just sat there like moldy, rotting fruit. It's kind of like the writers couldn't even be bothered to think of anything genuinely funny. The real disappointing thing is the trailer made this look Matt and Trey funny!!! Particularly with Pam Brady writing. The actual movie is just sad.
Editboy on Aug 25, 2008
I saw this at Comic Con and I LOVED IT 😀
Beryl on Aug 25, 2008
EVERYONE IN IT GAVE ME AN ERECTION
MARTY on Aug 29, 2008
Yeah Editboy, you saw a different film. I agree with Kevin. In fact, I loved it more. I thought it was the funniest movie of the year. So many great lines and performances. My rating is 10/10.
Film Fan on Sep 1, 2008
Easily the funniest movie of the year.
Al on Sep 7, 2008
Editboy #3, I couldn't agree more. After all the hype I was jazzed to see this one. but no matter how much I tried it just kept getting worst. The kicker for me was Kathrine Keener leaves him for the other guy. Come on! She plays roles like this so well because she's not acting at all! All of the others make no impression eitherl. The thing that kills me is the money that was spent to produce this travesty could have been given to someone truly talented with a real vision. Waste of time. I really would like my money back.
Bryanmakeup on Jan 2, 2009
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