Published Aug 21, 2008Hamlet 2 is an uneven comedy about failed actor turned high school drama teacher Dana Marschzs (Steve Coogan) misguided attempts to inspire his students and save arts education by staging a musical sequel to Hamlet.
When Marschz finds out the school is going to cancel the drama program, he uses his two pet students (Skylar Astin and Phoebe Strole), as well as his newly enrolled roster of tough-seeming Latino students (all the classes they cared about were cancelled and they are forced to take drama), to mount his newly penned masterpiece, Hamlet 2.
The play works through Marschzs daddy issues with a script that has Hamlet travelling through time to correct the tragedies of his tale, as well as meeting up with a dancing, sexy Jesus, excerpts from Marschzs own abusive upbringing and all manner of other vaguely offensive and pornographic material group sex and Hilary Clinton are both mentioned but never shown.
When the school board tries to shut down the production, the controversial play becomes a First Amendment cause celébre, attracting attention nationwide and the student body comes together to put the play on against all odds.
The films tone is inconsistent, fluctuating between broad pratfalling farce, sharper satire on the inherent (and often racist) condescension in the inspirational teacher movie genre and almost earnest moments that are incongruous with the rest of the films humour.
There are many funny ideas in the script and the film has some great moments but the execution is a little sloppy and the acting is too over-the-top to make it successful. It makes similar-themed film Waiting for Guffman seem precise and restrained by comparison.
The talented cast is led by Steve Coogan (24 Hour Party People), as the unrelentingly optimistic Marschz, who sets this tone with a broad performance that is just a little too silly, lacking a believable emotional core. (Alliance)