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Hamlet 2 Inspires a Smile

Published August 22, 2008 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox
Hamlet 2 Poster Hamlet 2
I think Hamlet 2 is the first non-sequel to have a number after it since Leonard Part 6. Just thinking. Anyway, Hamlet 2 is the answer to every stupid inspirational teacher movie there ever was. I had a nice smile on my face throughout the film. It never waned from the laugh out loud moments to get to the point where I was serious waiting for the next gag.

Review: Hamlet 2

Washed up actor Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) leads a high school drama department's production of plays based on movies like Erin Brockovich. When the school gives notice that they are shutting down his drama department, he writes his own original play, "Hamlet 2," to raise enough money to let him keep inspiring students in future semesters.

The plays based on movies is from Rushmore but it's not the focus here. It's only the setup of a perfect comedy world. Marschz and his two drama geek students are caricatures. They are heightened versions for sure, but I had a guy like Marschz teach me in high school. They exist in an otherwise real high school, hence the comedy.

Obsessing over school paper reviews like actual Broadway actors is silly, but the idea of a preteen acting like a highbrow critic is very real. Where do you think I got started? Even the random star cameo is funny because it's played as if it's reality. So putting on the ridiculous notion of a Shakespeare sequel is funniest when it's happening in our world. If it were just some crazy world where everyone thought he was a genius, that would be wrong.

They actually made the writing process funny, showing his reactions to distractions, and then having somebody actually read a portion for the comic timing. Really, we only get hints of the actual play until the final performance, because the film is not so much about "Hamlet 2." It's about what crap all those inspirational teacher movies are.

The timing is really sharp throughout the movie. Everyone's deadpan lines are delivered expertly against Coogan's ridiculous antics. Every step of the way, he meets a reality that shatters the lofty dreams of an inspirational movie teacher or any movie underdog who just really, really believes.

When they finally show the whole play, it's awesome. I mean, it's funnier than "Springtime for Hitler." It's hardly about Hamlet. It's more about Jesus, but it's just so ridiculous it doesn't matter. They make rape funny by putting it in a ridiculous context. I always thought the only way to make rape funny was to joke about gay rape in prison.

Here's how much I loved Hamlet 2. They had a reception before the film so I'd had some beers. I had to pee about halfway through, but I just didn't want to miss a single joke, so I held it.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of 20th Century Fox

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