Hamlet 2 Andrew Fleming

Hamlet 2 Andrew Fleming
There's a very funny movie within writer/director Andrew Fleming's high school drama program effort Hamlet 2, which stars Steve Coogan (Tropic Thunder) as a failed thespian turned pathetic high school teacher. But the final result throws in too many elements - a bitter failed marriage to Catherine Keener, a clichéd "poor kids discover the arts" inspirational story, Elizabeth Shue playing herself, having abandoned Hollywood for nursing - and huge disparities in tone make Hamlet 2 more miss than hit. There's a strangely vulgar mean streak to much of the comedy that swims against its supposedly big heart, and thus neither the comedy nor the emotional payoff strike gold. The sparse extras on this DVD hint at the root of these problems: it's never a good sign when so many participants talk about how open to ideas Fleming was on set, willing to try whatever actors came up with on the day. The final results seems like a mishmash of those on-set inspirations; it's undercooked at best, and it's all the more frustrating to see potentially hilarious ideas - it centres upon a time-travelling sequel to Hamlet, with a happy ending - fall flat. Extras include a "sing-along" feature, a couple of unimportant deleted scenes and the making-of that's clear evidence that here was a good idea that needed a little more polish. Steve Coogan is occasionally able to hoist the whole film on his capable comedic shoulders but at other times, it seems his cartoon-ish performance belongs in a different movie from the rest of the more reality-rooted cast. One more script pass and a tighter directorial hold on the reins would have helped steer Hamlet 2 into more consistent waters. (Alliance)