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Hamlet 2
Genre Comedy
Year: 2008

Hamlet 2 is a film by writer-director Andrew Fleming, who co-wrote Hamlet 2 with South Park writer-producer, Pam Brady. The film stars Steve Coogan of 24 Hour Party People and A Cock and Bull Story. The British actor is starting to find his groove in Hollywood, after several years of scratching the glitz. He finds himself in a world of off-beat comedy in Hamlet 2 as Dana, a man trying to inspire his drama students with the art of theatre. This is a perfect vehicle for an over-the-top performance from Coogan, who embraces both slapstick and subtle humour. It’s not as classy as British comedy, but its irreverent nature and unpredictability keep the audience on full alert. The comedy isn’t as hostile as Borat, but skims a thin line between TV sensations The Office and South Park with a camp community theatre vibe. Steve Coogan is hilarious at times and shows he has a definite screen presence with this lead role. Coogan has a fearlessness that makes the whole show spark with life and unbridled enthusiasm. One could even describe Hamlet 2 as a rough mix of Waiting for Guffman and Dangerous Minds.

Coogan is supported by Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich), whose roles seem naturally attracted to art house. She plays Dana Marschz’s temperamental wife, Brie - a woman in her 40s trying to fall pregnant and reminiscing the good old days. Elisabeth Shue plays herself as a tired-of-Hollywood actress wanting to do some community outreach as a nurse. It’s an awkward role that fits in with the demented humour and eccentricities of Dana. Amy Poehler makes a late entry as a civil rights attorney intent on sticking it to the man and protecting the underdog. The whole production has a cheerful tone amid some mind-altering drugs, controversial remarks and broad comedy. Coogan seems to take it all in his stride with brief flashes of nudity and the extreme fashion of a “true” drama teacher-slash-thespian. Hamlet 2 is the main attraction and the preparation of the show is kept under wraps until the grand opening, which comes complete with police sirens and pyrotechnics.

Hamlet 2 is not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s funny, but it’s also coarse as it ridicules the teaching profession, challenges free speech and pays homage to musical theatre with songs like “Rock Me Sexy Jesus”. This is campy satire, covered in the familiar teacher-student drama fiasco and dipped in nuts. It won’t go down as the best musical, comedy, drama or Steve Coogan film you’ve seen in a long time, but it will entertain you with its sharp wit and quirky characters. It would have been funny for just about anyone trying to create a piece of theatre by resurrecting and reversing Hamlet’s tragic ending with a time machine. Steve Coogan just makes it that much better.

The bottom line: Nutty.

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