Rodney E. from SILVER SPRING, MD Reviewed on 11/1/2017...
An unconventional comedy that serves as a proving ground and vehicle for the success of stars Catherine Keener and Steve Coogan
Leela P. from TEMPLE CITY, CA Reviewed on 3/30/2013...
I love Steve Coogan AND Shakespeare, but this is absolutely one of the very worst films I've ever seen in my whole life. Do yourself a favor and watch something else.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Jamie S. (smunki) from SANTA CRUZ, CA Reviewed on 12/7/2011...
This is a must-see for anyone that loves cringe comedy and offensive humor.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Thuy P. (T-Payne) from SAN ANTONIO, TX Reviewed on 2/21/2009...
I didn't know what to expect at first due to the title but ended up laughing my butt off by the end of the movie. Watching the movie with the writers' commentary was just as funny as the movie.
3 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Suzanne B. Reviewed on 12/31/2008...
Seemingly silly at first but actually quite enjoyable by the end of the movie. Fun to see Elisabeth Shue portraying "herself" in this film. Some foul language and a couple of flashes of Steve Coogan's butt aren't enough for the R-rating, so it could have gotten by with a PG-13, IMO. "Rock me, Sexy Jesus!!" is my favorite part.
"I kept flashing back to Christopher Guest's hilarious 1997 mockumentary, Waiting for Guffman, as I was watching this raucous 2008 comedy, and in this case, that turns out to be high praise. Directed and co-written in ramshackle fashion by Andrew Fleming (whose most prominent credits include the 2003 remake of The In-Laws and an episode of Arrested Development), this wacky concoction mixes broad slapstick, harmless raunch, and politically incorrect humor with a heavy, tongue-in-cheek dose of Dangerous Minds (referred to in the film) and every other cliché-driven movie about a schoolteacher who serves to inspire his students. The result is something of a mess when it comes to telling a coherent story, but it's also an infectious movie that had me laughing heartily during most of its 92-minute running time. It comes as no surprise that Fleming's writing partner is Pam Brady, who is most famous for producing and writing several episodes of South Park, as well as the 1999 movie version, South Park - Bigger, Longer & Uncut. The similarities are quite apparent.
The plot is predictably absurd and rather inspired. Manitoba-born Dana Marschz is a failed TV commercial actor who has ended up teaching drama in a Tucson high school. He has just finished directing a stage production of Erin Brockovich starring the only two students enthusiastic about his over-the-top, highly derivative approach to theater. Marschz is trying to earn the respect of the pre-adolescent critic of the school newspaper but to little effect. His wife Brie hates him and yet wants to have a child. At the same time, they are forced to take in a tight-lipped boarder named Gary to make ends meet. Things change dramatically on the first day of the new semester when Marschz inherits a classroom full of Latino students who could care less about drama. Told by the principal that drama would no longer be part of the school curriculum, Marschz decides to go out fighting and stage a long-gestating work-in-progress, a musical sequel to the Bard's most famous work entitled, of course, "Hamlet 2". What happens after that point is a freewheeling comedy of errors that gives Marschz's demented optimism the perfect vehicle.
Looking like Eric Idle's younger brother, Steve Coogan gives an audaciously funny performance as Marschz, a pitiable character in the most obvious ways but undeniably likeable. He flails somewhat during the more vulnerable moments probably because his performance is so otherwise manic and vainglorious. By comparison, Christopher Guest's Corky St. Clair in "Guffman" has moments of weakness, but his character resonated more simply because the humor came from a more serious state of self-doubt. However, Coogan is a superb physical comedian, especially on his ever-present roller skates. Back in hippie-chick mode from The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Catherine Keener is hilariously toxic as Brie, while Amy Poehler gets the funniest lines in her smallish role as ACLU lawyer Cricket Feldstein, an overly enthusiastic activist with a bigoted streak a mile wide.
Elisabeth Shue gets to play a parody of herself as washed up in Hollywood and forced into what she says is a more fulfilling career as a fertility clinic nurse. While she is charming as usual, Shue is not given nearly enough to do here. There are bright turns by Skylar Astin as the closeted Rand and Phoebe Strole as the unctuous Epiphany, both alumni of Broadway's Spring Awakening, as well as from Joseph Julian Soria as the brooding actor-wannabe Octavia. The normally hyperactive David Arquette plays strictly against type as near-silent Gary. The much ballyhooed production that provides the film's climax is not quite as outrageous as "Springtime for Hitler" in the original 1968 version of The Producers. However, it is funny enough despite the fact that "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus" sounds like a familiar doo-wop song with wittier lyrics. I just wish Brady and Fleming spent a bit more time on consolidating the plot structure. Some of the story meanders without reason, and then it just stops without incident. Regardless, there is plenty of laugh-out-loud entertainment here for the undemanding viewer."
David Harscheid | Arlington, VA | 11/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I am a professional actor (stage, TV and film) and a substitute high school teacher. I am also a script writer and "script doctor." Physical comedy is my mainstay in theater. Just off the top of my head: Steve Coogan is a superb physical actor (his drunk on roller skates is unbeatable) He is well within range of Buster Keaton's world. The writing is smart, well-paced, knowledgable about teen-agers, and surprisingly free of salacious humor that usually begs for the lowest common denominator these days. (If all this sounds like too much praise for a film comedy, then you haven't seen enough trash onscreen!) Loved it. D. Harscheid"
Coogan = Funny
Ratso Ruck | NYC, NY | 01/26/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Steve Coogan plays his character with such naivete and pure love for theatrical arts, you can't help but dig him. The entire cast is up to the challenge of playing into his character that the film becomes more about embracing one person's passion no matter how awful you think it might be because you are satisfying the end result - art for art's sake. And in the end, they pull it off.
The film may not succeed in every way (i.e. David Arquette has literally nothing to do and the arc with Catherine Keener is utterly predictable), but there are never long sections that feel like the film is dragging. The laughs keep coming even through the character's lowest moment and Amy Poehler breathes plenty of fresh air into it at the end."
Spectacularly zany off-the-wall musical comedy . . . a perfe
Scott Schiefelbein | Portland, Oregon United States | 05/03/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Andrew and Pam Fleming co-wrote this bizarre, irreverent, hilarious, and completely original comedy . . . I must confess that I fear for their neighbors, because this pair views the world from a completely different point of view than the rest of us. While that's a boon to the movie-going public, I'm not sure I would want to borrow a cup of sugar from - Lord knows what they'd ask for in return.
If "Napoleon Dynamite" is a spoof of all teenager coming-of-age comedies, then "Hamlet 2" is a spoof of the "Let's put on a show" genre. Set in the completely mediocre town of Tuscon, the movie revolves around one Dana Marschz, a drama teacher who seemingly would have to aspire to great heights to achieve mediocre. Played by Steve Coogan with a zany pell-mell brio that brings to mind a young Eric Idle, Mr. Marschz is a semi-successful actor who has fallen on hard times. Now he teaches drama to mainly disinterested high school students and puts on derivative plays based on successful Hollywood movies. His marriage to Brie (Catherine Keener) is falling apart before his ignorant eyes and he can only roller-blade to work. Where, I should add, he is being fired due to budget cuts.
His career trajectory, one might say, has flatlined.
But then he decides to stage his magnum opus, a sequel to Hamlet. How, you ask, if everyone dies in the first one? Simple - a time machine! Not content to insult the legacy of Shakespeare's most famous play, Dana manages to offend virtually every sensibility in town.
But from Dana's madness comes greatness. Perhaps only through his unwavering faith in Art and the fact that he lives in a parallel universe where Elizabeth Shue plays herself as a local nurse (Shue having grown tired of the phoniness of Hollywood), but Dana believes he has created an artistic masterpiece.
The cool thing is, he may be right. Or he may be spectacularly wrong.
If possible, try to avoid any spoilers - this completely original movie must be experienced without any warning as to what is to come. Several gut-busting comic gems await if you do.
A must see for anyone who has ever struggled with art, had frustrated dreams, or attended high school. (It helps if you're familiar with the films of Elizabeth Shue, too.)"
Rock Me Sexy Jesus!
B. Merritt | WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California | 10/16/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"HAMLET 2 is corny, stupid, ridiculous and ludicrous, all at the same time ...which helps it succeed on some bizarre, comedic level.
Steven Coogan (Tropic Thunder), the king of losers, stars as Dana Marschz, a failing drama teacher at a high school where only two students regularly attend his classes. His loser status is enhanced throughout the film as his job faces the school district's financial axe, his wife Brie (Catherine Keener, An American Crime) runs off with another loser, and his classroom becomes overrun by gangbanger wannabes who've been run out of their own building. But with the new infusion of students comes an opportunity for Dana. Always wanting to produce his own musical/drama stage play, he comes up with a great idea: Hamlet 2. Yes, THAT Hamlet. "But doesn't everyone die at the end of Hamlet?" someone asks rather perceptively.
Though this be madness, yet there is method in it. I think...
Hamlet 2 is just ...wrong. Wrong on every level imaginable. Religiously, philosophically, and instructionally, this is just so ...wrong! Which makes it just a tad alright. As Dana unleashes his play, great and terrible things come out, including Christian extremists and art critics. When the phenomenal stage song "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" begins playing, it proves just how off-kilter this film really is. Which, again, makes it a touch okay. "I get it now! Jesus is sexy!"
The film lacks coherency in terms of a distinct direction. It seems that the goal of the film is for Dana to hit rock bottom before succeeding with an impossibly absurd stage story sequel to one of the greatest plays of all time.
The funny thing about Hamlet 2 is that the acting is really bad. And it appears that it is MEANT to be bad so that there is bad acting within a story that's about bad acting (and writing). Even so, this hints at the level of comedy that director Andrew Fleming was shooting for; a layer upon layer theme that works and doesn't work.
But, if for no other reason, you need to watch the film to see the "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" number. It is so bad, it's good."