2008 has been the year of action movies and comedies, yet Hamlet 2, a highly buzzed and highly anticipated sequel to the Shakespearean classic was largely ignored by audiences. Maybe the trailers didn't resonate, or simply there was not as much demand for a modern-day Shakespeare sequel which features a song called "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" as first thought.
Steve Coogan, who also played the director in Tropic Thunder, plays the writer and director of a desperate attempt to resurrect a high school drama program - by somehow bringing Hamlet and the other characters from the original play back to life. Dana Marschz (Coogan) is a bit of a loser, an eccentric who loves drama but who can't act or write. When placed with a group of inner city Latino kids, his first attempt to relate with them is to go watch Dangerous Minds for inspiration. After that, though, he is able to inspire them by writing an insanely ludicrous and offensive play that involves Einstein, Jesus, Hamlet and a bi-curious Polonius.
Hamlet 2 is a surprisingly entertaining movie, led by Coogan's performance and director Andrew Fleming. The movie is irreverent and goofy, and Coogan bounces off the walls like few actors could. His character's utter enthusiasm, combined with his many flaws, make for many entertaining moments. While Coogan may get high marks, many will overlook Fleming's direction, which has the timing down pat. Fleming delivers goofy without going overboard, and his comedic timing and pacing is just right. He captures about as many laughs as could be mustered up.
On the downside, Hamlet 2 isn't as funny as I would have hoped. The screenplay is good, but inconsistent, though the final product is likely the exact movie that Fleming and co-writer Pam Brady set out to make. It doesn't aspire to be hilarious every step of the way - and isn't - and I give Fleming and Brady props for making a quality film; still, those who have grown accustomed to the non-stop laughs of the Judd Apatow films will find this one lacking in parts. For what it is, though, it's a pretty good movie.
Hamlet 2 has enough laughs and awkward moments to satisfy, and is an all-around entertaining picture. By no means the best comedy of the year, Hamlet 2 still delivers, especially when the musical numbers kick into high gear. Rock Me Sexy Jesus is alive and well.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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