Release: 08.22.08 (limited); 08.27.08 (wide)
1 hour, 32 minutes
Full Price ($$$$)
If you'd asked me last year what those four things had in common, I would've said, not a damn thing. But now, it's a simple answer: Hamlet 2.
Teacher Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan, Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story), in order to save his high school drama program from the chopping block (and simultaneously prove his worth as a thespian and human being) crafts a sequel to a Shakespearean classic. The result, Hamlet 2, resurrects the entire cast through a plot device, Jesus Christ in a time machine. Let the fun and heresy begin.
Marschz (pronounced Marshesz...maybe) lives the age old adage, those who can't, teach. After accepting defeat as an actor, he resides in the armpit of America, Tucson, with his wife Brie (Cathering Keener, 40 Year-Old Virgin) and their housemate Gary (David Arquette, Scream). As the struggling teacher and husband, Coogan is absolutely brilliant. He aspires to inspire young minds with theater in the vein of Stand and Deliver or Dangerous Minds, yet he can't inspire his own seed to find perch within Brie's womb. The conception of his play changes everything. Once invisible to others, he soon becomes despised for simultaneously ruining a classic, taking the Lord's name in vain and defiling America. As the few strands of his self-worth slip from his grasp, Marschz's students must rally together to refocus him on making opening night a success.
Besides solid performances from Keener and the mostly silent Arquette, students Rand (Skylar Astin), Epiphany (Phoebe Strole), Octavio (Joseph Julian Soria) and Ivonne (Melonie Diaz, Be Kind Rewind) provide a tons of hilarity with their quirky characters. Amy Poehler (Baby Mama) also appears as balls-to-the-wall attorney Cricket Feldstein who comes to defend the play from litigation.
Writer Pam Brady (Hot Rod) and director Andrew Fleming (The Craft), with contributions by Steve Coogan, penned a script that steadily builds from mild chuckles to a cacophony of laughter. When I saw a sneak preview, there were times when the clever dialogue was lost to the audience's guffaws.
Coogan's Jesus does, in fact, make me wanna sing Rock Me Sexy Jesus. If you don't have love for sexy Jesus, there's always the cute Melonie Diaz and, let us not forget, everyone's favorite babysitter, Elisabeth Shue (The Saint), who appears as herself, in all her yummy goodness. If you've found the crude commentary of South Park offensive over the years, some of the dialogue from Hamlet 2, is not for you.
The Money Shot
Some may remember that in my Summer of LAMB prediction, I made the pronouncement that either Son of Rambow or Hamlet 2 would be this year's Little Miss Sunshine. I'm now satisfied that I was at least half right Hamlet 2 will be this summer's breakout success. Help make my prediction a reality. If you don't, I'll feel as if I have been raped in the face.
Friday, August 22, 2008