Friday, September 05, 2008

Make Me Laugh, Hamlet

The other evening I was in the mood to laugh. I didn’t want to chuckle, giggle, or grin. I wanted to laugh out loud, the kind of laughter that’s contagious to the people sitting around you. It had been a long, hard week and if laughter is the best medicine then I wanted to overdose.

With that in mind a friend and I went to see Hamlet 2.

Oooh... what coulda been shoulda been and woulda been if the sloppy script had been polished a little bit more. Sure there were laughs, not uproarious belly laughs, but laughs nonetheless, and the premise was silly fun, but overall the movie lacked the edge it really needed. (Paging John Waters...)

It’s the story of a marginally talented never-made-it actor named Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) who now lives in Tucson, AZ and teaches high school drama. Unfortunately the drama department is being cut the next semester, so he stages a politically incorrect musical, the sequel to Hamlet, aptly titled Hamlet 2, to help save the drama department.

The musical numbers do shine. I mean, how can you go wrong with songs called “Rape My Face” and “Rock Me Sexy Jesus”?

It’s what happens between the musical numbers that needs work. Halfway through I was getting restless as we trudged through Marschz’s failing marriage (his wife is wonderfully played by Catherine Keener), her affair with their roommate (David Arquette in a forgettable role), and Marschz's infatuation with Elizabeth Shue (who plays a parody of herself).

With Coogan a little goes a long way... his comedy tends to be way over-the-top, bordering on cartoonish. For Hamlet 2 he needed to take it down a notch.

Overall it’s not a bad picture. The percentage of laughs is high, but not high enough when you think of what it coulda been.

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