Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mini-movie review: Hamlet 2

What a peculiar and funny little movie! calls it "irreverent," the box art calls it "demented," its own writers (one of whom has many South Park credits to her name) call it "offensive" and Tucson (AZ) just plain hates it. Me, I laughed a lot but don't have a lot to say about it now that it's over.

Hamlet 2 is about Dana Marschz (Brit Steve Coogan a/k/a the exploding director from Tropic Thunder), a high school drama teacher who, when faced with the termination of his department, pulls out all the stops for one last school play. The production, written by Marschz, is of course the sequel to Hamlet, despite the fact that everybody dies at the end of Shakespeare's play. How does Marschz get around this? With a time machine, of course. Plus, it's a musical. Along the way, Marschz has to deal with his unhappy wife (Catherine Keener) and a class full of unruly kids who were forced into drama when all the other electives were cut.

In the DVD extras, the writers say that the idea for this movie arose when they realized how offensive many inspirational teacher movies are - when a white teacher walks into an ethnically-mixed class and "saves" all the at-risk kids (Dangerous Minds with Michelle Pfeiffer was referenced). Hamlet 2 is then a parody of these kinds of movies - the Latino kids that Marschz thinks need saving are actually affluent honor students, the little white girl is a racist who boosts television sets, and Marschz needs saving more than anyone else - while in the end actually being an inspirational teacher movie - both Marschz and the kids put on a truly incredible show in the final act.

What I'm not getting across here is that Hamlet 2 is also very funny in a twisted, subversive way. I mean, there's Hamlet and Jesus and a time machine, fer cryin' out loud. The best part, however, is the musical number "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" - when Jesus (Coogan) moonwalks on water ... it's quite awesome and two hours later, I still can't get the damn song out of my head.


  1. It really is. I'm becoming more fond of it the more I think about it. It's really too bad that more people didn't see it; I'm not sure it even came to Maine. I think its only shortcoming is that there wasn't much character development for the drama kids - true, they weren't the stereotypes you expected, but then they didn't grow much. Still, great stuff.

  2. I was so mad it didn't blow up like Little Miss Sunshine or Waitress. It really needed to blow up. We haven't seen it since July but we're dying to rent it to see if it was as great as we remember it.

    It didn't have much xter growth but it was so funny I didn't care.

  3. FYI. I passed on the Dardos Award to you. Don't know if you do the whole blog awards thing or not. This is a new one for me. The post is on my site.