Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Movie Review: Hamlet 2

A friend of mine, Amber (of The Amber Scott Project fame), has been insisting to me for ages that I had to watch "Hamlet 2". I hadn't felt the need when this flashed in and out of theaters, but since it's on DVD and, since Amber brought it to me, and also since you don't hold onto your pals' fave DVDs without watching them, I so watched.

And. Oh. My. God.

It's hilarious.

Now, it's probably not the best movie ever made, though it's certainly the funniest one made about people in Tucson. The movie stars Steve Coogan, he of the Ben Stiller Gang, aka the Director in "Tropic Thunder", the Roman General in the "Night at the Museum" movies, and so on. And he's brilliant. But so is the rest of it.

It's your standard "teacher inspires" movie crossed with "Fame" and with a hearty helping of "Midsummer Night's Dream", and, of course, "Hamlet", and a lot of scatological and sacrilegious humor tossed in -- then turned on its ear and pulled inside out. (Those in the creative arts will particularly find a lot of relatability to the characters, embarrassingly so.) It takes shots at racism, fundamentalism, arts funding cuts that have removed any and all arts from schools, the ACLU, and more, all while managing to show that the power of dreams will ultimately win out.

Like the "teacher inspires" movies it's poking fun at, Coogan is a drama teacher. Unlike those other movies, he's rather pathetic and the one in need of saving. Like "A Midsummer Night's Dream", the truly hilarious portion is at the end, when the play that our intrepid drama teacher and his class of misfits are trying to put on actually hits the stage. But all the 3/4 of the movie prior is not only funny, it's all necessary to get the full pee-your-pants laughs out of the last 1/4.

The kids are mostly unknowns, the adults include Coogan, Catherine Keener (bravely being a total, completely believable, emasculating bitch), David Arquette (and, just asking, but can David really be as stupid in real life as he acts on the DVD extras? I say no, that he's just wise to his typecasting and doesn't want anyone to ever think he's actually bright so that he continues to work steadily), and Elisabeth Shue. Shue deserves some sort of award for clearly being the celebrity most willing to make fun of herself. She sort of made the movie for me, just because every scene it was like, "I can't BELIEVE she let them do or say that about her, OMG, she said it herself!" sort of thing.

I could describe the movie's plot, but why? This is truly one where you have to watch it and commit to watching it the whole way through. The payoff is worth the time.

And I defy you to not watch the cast perform "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus" and NOT wonder why these kids aren't the stars of "Glee". Or at least their ghetto rivals.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Woot! Woot! I am so glad you'd dug it. And tell me that writing scene isn't completely dead on right down to the naked truth and cat screaming! Or is that just my process?

June 1, 2010 at 4:28 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Dovichi said...

This sounds hilarious. I'm putting it on my Blockbuster queue right now. :)

June 2, 2010 at 10:30 AM  
Blogger Gini Koch said...

"Writing is so HARD!"

I wonder if I can buy "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus" on iTunes...

June 2, 2010 at 10:55 AM  

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