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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!
I also was expecting something raunchy like South Park or Team America and it wasn't. But it was really entertaining. The bad reviews for this movie say stuff about character development...who cares. You should have known thats not the type of movie this was before you went and saw it then came immediately to your computer to blast it. I think people are too critical on movies lately; you don't have to be moved or have life altering epiphanies after seeing a movie. A movie can just be something that makes you laugh for two hours that you don't have to think too much about and thats what I found in this movie. I found it witty and clever; and I would recommend it.
I had to drive all the way from Palm Springs to Los Angeles to watch
"Hamlet 2." Traffic drama notwithstanding, the 2-hour trek is all worth
it! I laughed out loud watching this film, which is really a parody of
a tragedy. Here are the pluses: Steve Coogan -- he anchors this film
from start to finish. He embodies his optimistic loser role. And those
great, broad physical comedy? Wow!
Catherine Keener -- only she can lift a one-dimensional role into a living, breathing, likable bitch :)
Elizabeth Shue -- I heard that she injected a lot of self-deprecating scenes into her role, very UN-Hollywood of her!
Musical Scenes -- it's ironic that the play, supposed to be the worst play ever, is the focal point and the bright, shining light of the film.
The "high school" cast -- they each embody stereotypes, and then collectively break through the norms of their roles.
And you know? This is not your "white teacher goes to the ghetto to teach the students life-affirming lessons" film. I applaud the movie for recognizing that, and going one step further.
Irreverent wit -- if you like the UN-PC qualities of South Park, you will love this film!
The only minuses I can think of are not enough character development, specially among the kids in school, and Keneer's twist, while predictable, still feels off-center and trite.
But trust me, you'll laugh and have a great time! I went to see "Hamlet 2" with a friend of mine who's not into the broad comedy genre and fell in love with the movie!
Honestly? The only folks who will hate this film are the ones who live in Tucson, Arizona :)
A loser drama teacher with no hope left of a real acting career decides
to gamble it all with a controversial new play. Through a bizarre
combination of circumstances, a gang of tough Latinos and a handful of
nerdy white theater kids join forces to help him realize his dream.
So much is going on in this incredible movie. The script is a rag-bag of old SOUTH PARK gags, (writer Pam Brady worked with Matt Stone and Trey Parker for many years) but it's spiced up with bizarre slapstick moments, celebrity cameos, and some real singing and dancing by a surprisingly charismatic and sexy cast of teen unknowns.
Steve Coogan is the glue that really holds this thing together. Even when the gags fall flat, he has a way of injecting genuine humor into the weirdest situations. "Everyone has rain gutters!" he shouts at a wealthy Mexican couple, for no reason at all. And when he's blocked at the typewriter, trying to write a masterpiece, he takes one look at his adorable pet cat and shouts, "What's your problem?" So stupid on paper, but in the film he makes it hilarious. Coogan has the comic genius of Gene Wilder in classics like YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, combined with the underdog appeal of Sylvester Stallone in the original classic ROCKY.
If I have any complaints about this film, it's that we don't see nearly enough of the talented teen actors who actually put on the play. I loved it when the prim and proper Epiphany threw herself into the arms of the sexy Mexican boy she'd been arguing with all through the movie, but couldn't there have been a little more development there? In a similar way, I would have liked it more if all the kids had gotten a bit more time to show off their acting skills, since it's obvious all of them are crazy about the stage.
HAMLET 2 makes a big joke out of referencing inspirational teacher movies like DANGEROUS MINDS and MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS, but it's really much more similar to that old teen television show FAME. Or to those old Judy Garland movies where someone says, "hey, kids, let's put on a show!" It also has an irreverent, sophisticated sparkle that reminds me of Shakespeare IN LOVE. Not only is there the obvious connection of making Great Literature into lively entertainment, but there's the sense that the entire film is really a love letter to actors and acting as a profession. That's an engaging premise, especially when you see so much bright young talent being revealed in such unexpected ways.
Go to this movie expecting anything and everything -- you won't be disappointed.
Screened this surprise comedy gem at Sundance 2008, and judging from
the reaction of festival goers this is the best of the fest. The story
is about Dana Marschz (Coogan) who is a complete and utter failure as
an actor. As such the only gig he can get is teaching drama at a low
funded Tuscon, Az high school. His wife (Keener) isn't too happy with
the living conditions which includes little money and a random roomie
(Arquette) to help pay the bills. As luck would have it though Dana's
life is about to change. His drama class unexpectedly inherits a bunch
of misfit kids who need more then a little motivation, then Dana has a
chance encounter with the goddess that is Elisabeth Shue who now lives
in Tuscon and works as a nurse because she is sick of Hollywood. To top
things off Dana has just one last chance at creating a masterpiece
before the curtain comes down for the final time. By shear will and a
good bit of madness Dana creates Hamlet 2, which very well could be the
most horrible play in human existence. Short on talent but strong on
enthusiasm the group of misfit students come together to bring to life
Dana's opus. With both disastrous and beautiful results Dana's
masterpiece thrills and amazes in what can only be called a very
interesting movie going experience.
I don't want to over hype the film, its certainly not Little Miss Sunshine, but it can hold its own with the smart and hip comedies that we've come to expect from the indie circuit. Steven Coogan finally has his vehicle to break through to the American cinema and it should definitely increase all our awareness of his comedic genius. More unexpectedly though the best part of the show is Elisabeth Shue who is so fantastic playing a parody of herself. Certainly one of my favorite on screen performances in a long while. Aside from the actors, you can expect a nifty little group of musical sequences that are both funny and actually performed quite well by the talented young folks in the flick. Movie should work on all levels, there is some questionable material, but if you don't take risks in comedy you aren't going anywhere new which is exactly why this is a comedy worth watching.
I enjoyed Steve Coogan's performance earlier this Summer in "Tropic
Thunder", where he played a supporting role as the hapless movie
director, and many of his earlier works.
In "Hamlet 2", he plays the lead role, as a high school drama teacher in Tucson, AR, where he is trying to teach his under-achieving students acting, without much success. The movie begins with a school play rendition of "Erin Brockovich", which was unintentionally hilarious. The drama critic for the school newspaper panned the play, which drives Coogan nuts. The interaction between Coogan & the drama critic is one of the high points of the film. The critic looks like he's about 11 years old, but Coogan hangs on his every word. After providing some sage advice to Coogan, the critic excuses himself to "go clean the gerbil cage". Then the school principal informs Coogan that funding for his drama program has been ended, and he'll need to find a new job. Coogan comes up with the idea to save the program by putting on a brilliant new play, written by himself, called "Hamlet 2".
There were many scenes that were excellent and hilarious. Elizabeth Shue had a major role (playing herself), which was very funny.
If you've seen Steve Coogan comedies before, such as "24 Hour Party People" or "Tristam Shandy", you are familiar with his brand of humor. If you liked that sort of movie, you'll like this. Even if you didn't care for either of those films, you might want to take a chance anyway. It's a clever comedy & well worth checking out.
Hamlet 2 despite the title is not a sequel to William Shakespeare's famous play, or the many film versions based on the play. Instead, Hamlet 2 is a comedy about a very unorthodox drama teacher named Dana Marschz, who after never being able to become a successful actor himself, has later had to settle for being a high school drama teacher. With two dedicated returning drama students and a class full of new faces, who do not really care about acting, Dana is inspired to write a sequel to William Shakespeare's Hamlet and get the class motivated and to perform it. Along the way, the somewhat controversial subject matter of the new play gets Dana a lot of publicity, but he insists that the show must go on. Hamlet 2 is a pretty good satire of the inspirational teacher films that have been big for the last twenty years, or so, and it was kind of a refreshing change to have a film with those elements in it, but also lampooning it and getting as satirical and far fetched with it as they can possibly go. The film also gets the actors involved to act really badly to add camp to this film and further emphasize the satirical nature of it. All the actors are playing B movie versions of themselves, but they still do a really good job of it. Hamlet 2 is a smaller scale film and unfortunately will probably not do as well as some of this summer's other comedies, but for those who were lucky enough to have a theatre near them playing it, I would highly recommend it. Like a lot of independent comedies of recent years, Hamlet 2 is very quirky, offbeat and different. I think that is what I liked so much about it. I do admit that there were some pretty good mainstream comedies that have come out this summer, but the originality and the fact that this film was so over the top, but in a purely entertaining and goofy way I think I may have had just as much fun watching this film as some of the other really good films of this year. There are also some catchy and very humorous musical numbers in the film as well plus a cameo which I will not give away, but is actually written quite brilliantly. I realize that there is some material in this film that some people may find offensive, or consider debatable content, but I personally was not offended by it at all. I don't think that the things it poked fun at were ever done in a really nasty, or disrespectful way. I myself thought that yes some things were being parodied, but in almost such an innocent way (it may not seem so, but believe me it's true) that I found it really hard to be offended by this film at all. I really appreciated the offbeat and quirky humour of the film, the overacting that suited the film just fine and the catchy musical numbers which I didn't find offensive for the same reasons as I stated above. This film may be a bit too different for some people's tastes, but like a rare, or exotic food it will find an audience that will appreciate it for what it is and this was certainly the case for me. One of the most entertaining, original and best comedies of the year so far.
In a year punctuated with very funny movies, "Hamlet 2" stands out as
the most peculiar and comedically risky. Its style of humor is an
almost indescribable mixture of social satire, broad slapstick, and dry
irony. I've seen it twice, seven months apart, and while I laughed
through most of it both times, I can also see how some viewers will
come away scratching their heads and wondering what's supposed to be so
The star is Steve Coogan, a beloved British comedian who still isn't being hailed as a genius in the United States. (Meanwhile, Dane Cook gets one movie deal after another.) He plays Dana Marschz, a mostly untalented actor who endured a number of humiliating show-biz gigs before giving up and moving to Tucson, Ariz. ("Where dreams go to die"). Now he is the drama teacher at West Mesa High School, specializing in stage adaptations of popular movies like "Erin Brockovich," which he writes himself and which invariably must be two-person shows because he only has two students in his class. One, a girl named Epiphany (Phoebe Strole), is a typical drama queen; the other, Rand (Skylar Astin), idolizes, and is probably in love with, Mr. Marschz.
After budget cutbacks result in the cancellation of most other electives, Dana's class is suddenly full of students, though most of them have little interest in being there. Determined to be an inspiring educator like the ones he's seen in "Dead Poet's Society" and "Mr. Holland's Opus," Dana tries to reach out to these kids, who are all Latino and, Dana assumes, from the wrong side of town. Dana is a lot like Michael Scott from "The Office": unaware of his own imbecility and eager to show everyone how gifted he is, despite not having any gifts.
Soon the budget cutbacks, mixed with a string of scorching reviews from the school paper's theater critic, threaten to shut down the drama program, too. Dana has one last chance to stage a show that will raise money and awareness. It has to be a dozy. It has to be memorable. He settles on an original script he's been writing, a little thing called "Hamlet 2." That title is arbitrary, perhaps chosen to give the movie a hook. ("'Hamlet 2'?! Now that sounds like a crazy comedy I should definitely go see!") What Dana Marschz writes only begins with Hamlet (who escapes death via a time machine) and becomes more accurately a musical investigation into Dana's own childhood traumas and his unresolved issues with his father. We see snippets of it in rehearsals and a huge chunk of it at the end of the film, when the play is staged before a shocked audience. Hamlet isn't the only literary figure of note to be included, either -- Jesus is here, too, a hip Jesus who moonwalks on water and scores big with the modern generation.
Before we get there, though, there is controversy as the community learns about the edgy elements of Dana's show. The ACLU steps in (kudos to Amy Poehler for a brief but memorable turn as the group's humorless representative), and Dana experiences massive self-doubt. He is not helped by his hilariously unsupportive wife, Brie, played with all the scathing sarcasm and apathy that the great Catherine Keener can muster (which is considerable, as you know if you've seen Catherine Keener in almost anything). Ultimately, the kids realize the lesson Dana has taught them: "It doesn't matter how much talent we lack, as long as we have enthusiasm." There are elements of several different kinds of movies (the Inspiring Teacher Drama, the Teen Comedy, the Let's Put On a Show! Musical, etc.), all of them relentlessly and absurdly satirized in a screenplay by Pam Brady, a "South Park" collaborator who also co-wrote the "South Park" movie and "Team America: World Police." Her work here is co-credited with the film's director, Andrew Fleming, who made 1999's under-seen political comedy "Dick" and last year's better-than-you'd-think "Nancy Drew." Dana Marschz (that's pronounced with three syllables, "Mar-zh-ce") is an oblivious, "Waiting for Guffman" type, the sort of character who never does realize what a loser he is. I'd be hard-pressed to identify any unifying theme to the film's whimsy, any connective tissue between the various things it makes fun of. Why do Dana and Brie have a dull boarder (David Arquette) living with them? Why does Elisabeth Shue appear as herself, tired of Hollywood and now working in Tucson as a nurse at a fertility clinic? Because it's odd and bemusing, that's why.
When "Hamlet 2" is finally performed, the audience is initially outraged by the portrayal of Jesus (played by Dana, looking strangely like "Weird Al" Yankovic), as well as the show's other highly offensive sexual material. Then they come to see that the show means no disrespect, that it's a commentary on stuff, and the scandalous nature of it is necessary to make its point. They say, "Oh, I get it!" But I think the joke is that they're wrong -- there ISN'T any deeper, more honorable message in it. There's nothing to get. Though Dana earnestly believes he's making a valid point, I think his show -- that is to say, the movie -- is being sacrilegious and dirty solely for laughs, a way of poking fun at how high-minded Hollywood satirists like to do something taboo while claiming to have noble purposes for it. (See: the recent controversy surrounding "Tropic Thunder" and the word "retard.") Many humorists are edgy just for the sake of being edgy, and "Hamlet 2" makes fun of them by doing the same thing, only with self-awareness.
Damn. This was funny. I love Steve Googan from all his UK performances
ans finally he was given a proper vehicle to make US audiences laugh
out loud. What made this so funny was its satire of traditional
dramatic elements in movies (Stand and Deliver, etc), as well as its
blatant parody of the quickly burned out "Indie Darling" comedies like
"Little Miss Sunshine" et al. Sure, the finale's song wasn't the best
of the lot (although I still find myself singing it over a week later!)
but the rest of the gags and songs (especially the "Face" song!) were
It was refreshing to see a screwball comedy that doesn't rely on toilet humor or "realistic" scenarios to drive a joke home. This was just pure silly fun, ans Coogan can pull that off with the best of them, if not better.
Hamlet 2 (2008) had an ad campaign that seemed to focus on the fact
that it was from the co-writer of South Park, but they are not
referring to Matt Stone or Trey Parker (who had absolutely nothing to
do with this movie). They are talking about Pam Brady who mostly
produces the show, but has some co-writing credits on a couple of the
episodes and on the South Park movie. So, if you're going into this
expecting something like Orgazmo or Team America, then you'll probably
That being said, the movie is still pretty clever and funny. Aside from a slow beginning, an annoying amount of pratfalls, and two completely pointless characters (played by Catherine Keener David Arquette), it's a pretty funny movie.
Unfortunately this is one of those movies where the funniest parts are spoiled by the trailer. My suggestion would be to skip the theatrical release and wait for it to come out on DVD. By that time, you probably will have forgotten the ad campaign, and you'll really be able to enjoy it.
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