Steve Coogan stars as Dan Marschz, in an eccentrically clever comedy as a washed-up actor turned high school drama teacher. He launches his most ambitious project yet – a sequel to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” – all the while dealing with budget cuts, unruly students and a crazy wife, played by Catherine Keener, two-time Academy Award nominee. Not to mention Elizabeth Shue stars as herself in the movie.
“Hamlet 2,” the comedy smash hit of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, directed by Andrew Fleming, who wrote “Dick” and “Threesome;” from an original screenplay he wrote with Pam Brady, creator of “South Park” and “Team America: World Police;” had the room erupting with laughter two minutes into the show.
This unorthodox, but inspirational film takes the audience on a journey of one man’s life, whose dreams of being an actor are crushed when it is clear he has no talent. His film credits amount to a Jack LaLanne Juicer infomercial, a Herpricol (herpes) commercial and a short stint on “Xena: Warrior Princess.”
Marschz’s career is reduced to teaching drama at a local high school, in the desert town of Tucson, Ariz. The setting has a surreal flatness with a sense of things fading and it is an interesting metaphor for what Marschz life has become.
Marschz stages poorly reviewed plays based on Hollywood hits with his drama class of two, played by flamboyantly confused student Rand (Skylar Astin) and his fellow over enthusiastic racist classmate Epiphany (Phoebe Strole).
The school newspaper critic, played by Shea Pepe, savagely rips his biannual school plays apart.
He decides to write an original piece for his next production and comes to an epiphany with writing a sequel to Hamlet, called Hamlet 2. A musical extravaganza where Hamlet uses a time machine to travel back to meet up with Jesus Christ to reverse the outcome of the first Hamlet to save his family’s life. Littered with controversial acts like the performance from the Gay Men’s Choir of Tucson singing “I’ve Been Raped in the Face,” it is hilarious and quite clever.
At times the over the top antics seemed to be a bit distracting. They were so repulsive and exaggerated that at times it took away from the rhythm of the movie
Halfway through rehearsals, Marschz is informed; that the drama program will be cut next semester and the principal demands him to cease all production of his upcoming play.
This catches the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union who feels there is first amendment violation.
While at the doctor he cannot help but notice that his nurse looks eerily similar to one of his favorite actress, Elizabeth Shue, from “Cocktails” and “Adventures in Babysitting.” Turns out it is Shue and she quit the business to pursue her real passion – caring for people. This gives Marschz hope and it reinforces the overly optimistic drama teacher, to move forward with the play no matter what.
With the stage set and the buzz building around town there is nothing left but to perform their asses off! The ridiculously incredible performance will take you on a roller coaster ride that will capture your attention while asking yourself, what crazy messed up mind does Andrew Fleming have?
It is definitely a movie worth seeing, and it has the potential for a cult following. It will definitely be a summer hit with 20-something and 30-something year olds who will be able to appreciate the humor. The film is rated R for good reason, it is plagued with foul language and questionable taste so it is not one to see with the family.
The Focus Features release opens on Friday, Aug. 22, so mark your calendars because you do not want to miss this train wreck of a movie that will take you to the moon and back – literally.