July 29, 2009

Hamlet 2

I was surfing through channels one night, and happened to come across Hamlet 2. I'd been interested in it when it was on theatres and at the rental store, but I always passed over it. I decided to watch it. Overall, I'm somewhat glad I did. There are certainly worse ways to spend an hour and a half. The film is very flawed, but enjoyable. It gets a little too stupid at times, but has some great moments. I'd love to have seen more of the actual play, instead of the misadventures of playwright/drama teacher Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan). The film comes across more as a homage to those annoying inspirational teacher movies, instead of a parody.

Coogan was okay. He's sometimes annoying, but he's likable enough. Catherine Keener, who plays Marschz's foul-mouthed alcoholic wife, is one of the weakest spots in the film. Her character is obnoxious, unfunny, and really doesn't serve much of a purpose. It's pretty frightening, by the way, how much Keener has aged since 2002's Death to Smoochy, in which she was flat-out hot. Elizabeth Shue was excellent as herself. Her performance, specifically her hilarious visit to Marschz's drama class, was the best thing about the film. And Amy Poehler, who is a very hit-or-miss actress/comedienne, is all hit here. She was great.

As for the music, I think "Raped in the Face" (yes, that's the name of the song) is probably in my 2008 song lineup now. That's the only Oscar nomination I would say that the film really deserves. "Rock Me Sexy Jesus", which was used in most of the TV spots and advertising for the film, was good as well, but sort of loses some impact after being heard on so many TV spots and trailers. The end credits number "Gay As the Day is Long" was ridiculously stupid, and feels like it was written by a dumb thirteen-year-old.

The film is like an R-rated version of another polarizing 2008 comedy-drama, Be Kind Rewind. Both films feature a kooky guy (or in the case of, Rewind, two kooky guys)'s unusual artistic visions, and the troubles they go through to create them. In both films, some people try to shut down the guy (or guys), while others stand behind them. Also, both films really should have been better than they are. If Trey Parker and Matt Stone had rewritten this for their friend and South Park colleague, the film's co-writer Pam Brady, it could have been excellent. As is, it's an amusing, but not great, little comedy, watchable at least once. 6.5/10