Film review: Hamlet 2 (2008), directed by Andrew Fleming
Despite the title, this is not a follow-up to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but a comedy about a high school drama teacher and aspiring actor, Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan), who has the sum total of two students and in his class. Rand (Skylar Astin) and Epiphany (Phoebe Strole) are very, very enthusiastic, but the annual school plays keep failing.
Due to cutbacks at the school the drama class ends up having a big influx of new students – none of whom actually give a toss about acting. Still, there is only one thing to do in order to ensure the drama class won’t be cut as well, and that is to give the most spectacular school play ever.
This year they’re not going to adapt a Hollywood blockbuster. Dana is going to write his very own script – a sequel to Hamlet, because the first one was wayyyy to depressing. This one involves time travel, a sexy Jesus, rock music and a bi-curious Laertes …
Also starring Catherine Keener, Joseph Julian Soria, Marshall Bell, David Arquette, Elisabeth Shue (as herself) and Amy Poehler.
We didn’t really know what to expect with this film, but we were pleasantly surprised. Steve Coogan is a hoot (although I personally don’t find his Alan Partridge character particularly funny) so we figured “why not?” when it came to seeing this film. What we found was a comedy that was as surprisingly dark as it was funny.
There were similarities with Nativity! in the way that a (controversial) school musical wants to be staged, and the headmaster wants to shut it down – but the project takes on bigger proportions than anyone could have imagined. This one goes as far as attracting the attention of a human rights activist.
It’s all a little bit crazy, but that isn’t a bad thing when it comes to comedies. Well, not always, at any rate. We had plenty of laughs and because the type of comedy was often dark and even black, it made it all the better.
The musical numbers were catchy too. Rock me sexy Jesus, all night looong … (Not that this clip is that accurate a representation of the whole film, but still.)
Elisabeth Shue turns up as herself – but as a nurse, not an actress. As in actress Elisabeth Shue has turned to nursing because her acting career wasn’t really going anywhere as she’s constantly overlooked because no one can remember who she is. This is then a recurrent theme, because Dana is the only one who knows who she really is – and adores her for it. Very well played on her part, and I hope she continues her acting, and that people do remember her!
So, to sum it up, Hamlet 2 might sound pants by the description, but it’s a delightfully dark comedy that’s actually really funny. It’s a bit like Glee on drugs. Well worth a watch!
4 out of 5 crumpled up manuscript pages.