THE POPCORN REEL FILM REVIEW/"Hamlet 2"
Say Cheese: Steve
Coogan as Dana Marschz and Amy Poehler as ACLU attorney Cricket Feldstein,
in Andy Fleming's "Hamlet 2", which opened in select theaters in the U.S.
today. (Photo: Focus Features)
An Uncertain Teacher, Conceiving The Impossible Sequel To A Work Of Rashness
Bold, ebullient and sublimely
ridiculous, "Hamlet 2" makes for cheeky, scathing theatrical comedy. Its
ambition and intellect are succeeded only by its own satirical splendor, its
gleeful pushing of the envelope beyond the realm of political correctness
and into the most un-holiest of un-holies: remaking Hamlet, the deadest of
dead Danes. Starring Steve Coogan (the British comedic great who appears in
"Tropic Thunder" right now and in the "Night At The Museum" sequel this
December) as a drama school teacher whose virility is very much in question
and seeks to avoid the knives of a pint-sized theater critic by putting on a
play entitled "Rock Me Sexy Jesus", "Hamlet 2" is sharp, funny and
invigorating, especially in its final half hour.
Mr. Coogan plays Dana Marschz -- the
pronunciation of the character's last name sounds like a challenge but he
pulls it off effortlessly every time -- a forlorn and inadequate man mired
in a marriage of pure inconvenience. So entrenched is Marschz in his own
self-loathing, insecurity and public self-ridicule that he is oblivious to
Brie, his wife (an excellent Catherine Keeler), whose "friend" Gary (a muted
David Arquette) quietly lounges around the house while Brie lacerates and
emasculates her inattentive spouse. Meanwhile,
Dana Marschz's first love --
or first love part a -- is his group of unruly theater students, all of whom
are Hispanic with the exception of two white students -- one gay, the other
a girl with pent up racist sentiments while masquerading as liberal. They
supply a lot of the humor and incorrectness, but so does Amy Poehler (of
television's "Saturday Night Live" and the Spring '08 film "Baby Mama") as
Cricket Feldstein, an ACLU attorney who zealously defends Marschz's "Sexy
Jesus" production against lawsuits and other assorted community outrages.
Ms. Poehler is salty and sensational as the tough, hard-hearted litigator
who lets it all hang out, enemies be damned.
In his role Mr. Coogan is zany, energetic -- the right kind of mix to
inhabit such a manic and neurotic character. In a strange way his Dana
Marschz is a wild and vulnerable Hamlet of sorts but a Hamlet without a
sword -- literally and figuratively. With his character Mr. Coogan
overindulges, and often at that. He engages in mimicry and
unpretentiousness, and his brand of satire and self-deprecation are a
perfect tonic. Melonie Diaz shows promise and smarts as Ivonne, one of
Dana's favorite students in drama class -- students who find their own inner
voices. The main ingredient of the comedy scenarios on hand in "Hamlet
2" are the number of times that unintentional intentional faux pas in
dialogue or action are caught on camera, both for comedic effect as well as
consistency of the wacky narrative as cleverly written by Pam Brady and the
film's director Andrew "Andy" Fleming. "Hamlet 2" coasts by effortlessly at
a lean and trim 92 minutes, providing a punch sharper than a jab from a
boxing champion's right-cross combination. No rope-a-dope needed here to
make the audience laugh.
"Hamlet 2", which opened today in select U.S. cities like New York, San
Francisco and Los Angeles before expanding to other cities next week, also
has a friskiness and prickliness to it, enabling it to stand favorably apart
from other recent comedies at your multiplex. A hit at this year's Sundance
Film Festival, Focus Features picked it up for distribution for a record
$10.5 million, and it's likely to recoup three or four times that amount in
North America. The film features a recurring punch line that never gets old
even though it has every right to. Bright, audacious and stupendous,
"Hamlet 2" would have probably have the Bard Of Avon himself rolling with
laughter in his grave.
"Hamlet 2" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for
language including sexual references, brief nudity and some drug content.
The film's duration is one hour and 32 minutes. Go ahead, laugh it up.
Copyright The Popcorn Reel. PopcornReel.com. 2008. All