Inside My Head

the literary rantings of Angie Frissore

Aaron’s Sunday Morning Sketch Cinema: Hamlet 2 (2008)

poster-hamlet2-lgSo, for my inaugural contribution to SMSC, I have chosen a comedy (of sorts) by the name of Hamlet 2.

Released in August of 2008, Hamlet 2 tells the tale of Dana Marschz (played by Steve Coogan). He is an effeminate, clueless, naive high school drama teacher who remakes popular movies into plays with disastrous results. After finding out the the drama department is being dropped due to budget cuts, he decides to go out with a bang and produce one last show. This show is a sequel to one of Shakespeare’s best known plays, and appropriately dubbed Hamlet 2.

With a group of students ranging from a young man confused about his sexual identity, a good girl secretly wanting to be bad, and a gang of Latino ruffians who took the course just for the easy credit, Mr. Marschz sets about putting his vision onto the stage. In the process he pisses off more and more people as they object to the content of the play, but continues to push forward despite it all to see his vision realized.

Hamlet 2 starts off pretty slow, and while there are pockets of amusement it’s a mixed bag for much of the film. Coogan’s portrayal of the bizarre teacher is funny at first, but the cluelessness and whininess starts to grate about halfway in. The movie hits a lot of the typical “underdog fighting back against those who wronged him by following his hamlet_2_3dream” notes, and wavers between low-brow comedy and trying to be a bit heartwarming. It plays a bit with racial stereotypes, pokes fun at other “teacher trying to reform the tough kids” movies, plays a bit into the teacher’s messed up personal life, and tries to jump all over the place as it builds up to the unveiling of the play. There are laughs throughout, or at least chuckles, but it never tries to rise above the mediocre level of comedy it hits early on and holds at. With the exception of the teacher and a few students, most characters are just archetypes that aren’t really fleshed out (surly principal, brain-dead roommate, bitchy wife, etc), and it’s obvious early on that your focus is meant to be on Coogan’s character and his small cadre of students.

That is, until towards the end, when the play Hamlet 2 finally hits the stage. While there is a lot going on (an attorney defending the play’s legal right to be shown, townspeople picketing outside), the movie does show a lot of the musical. Featuring such soon-to-be-classic number like “Raped in the Face” (sung by an actor portraying Albert Einstein) and “Rock Me Sexyhamlet2 Jesus”, when you’re watching the play-within-the-movie it all comes together and makes the last hour or so worth the wait. As Jesus and Hamlet go on adventures with their time machine, not only is the play hilarious but the reactions of the audience are funny as well (like a parent who is horrified, but also states that he can’t look away).

Is it worth seeing? Probably, as long as you’re easily amused and aren’t looking for high art. There’s enough funny to keep it moving along, and the play itself (what they show of it) is amazing and entertaining and nonsensical wrong in so many ways. It’s not the greatest comedy in the world, but it’s hardly the worst. It’s a lot like the main character: a bit of lost, but with lofty dreams, and it all comes together in the end.

Hamlet 2‘s sketch cinema quote?

Mr. Marschz (as Jesus in the play Hamlet 2): When my father finds out what I’ve been doing, he’s going to crucify me.

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February 1, 2009 - Posted by | Sunday Morning Sketch Cinema |

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