Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hamlet 2

Hamlet 2 is the breath of fresh air after a stifling summer. This comedy works all the way through and the last act provides more laughs than what came for. That's not something that can be said for Tropic Thunder or Pineapple Express.
Steve Coogan wants to put on a play with his Arizona high school students to both bolster his failed film actor ego and encourage his pupils to exceed their grasp. Coogan's wife (Catherine Keener) encourages him to write a play. The resulting drama solves the problem of a sequel to a play where all the characters die - a time machine. This also allows for a bevy of historical characters like Jesus.
Remember the part of Rushmore where Max presents his theater piece and Kumar Pallana remarks "Best play ever?" The ending of Hamlet 2, where we get to see (a condensed version of) the play Coogan has penned may be the best play ever. It's little surprise Hamlet 2 comes from one of the writers (Pam Brady) who wrote the script and lyrics for the South Park movie and Team America: World Police. Brady co-wrote Hamlet 2 with Andrew Fleming, a writer/director who had a bit of momentum in the 90s with films like The Craft and Threesome, but has been paddling in circles in the current decade with stuff like Nancy Drew. Hamlet 2 just bough him a great deal of film cred.
"Rock Me Sexy Jesus" a song from Coogan's play is a bona fide show stopper. Not only does the tune demand a nomination for Best Song, it works in the film as a device that at first shocks but then mollifies Coogan's critics. Up to this point every move Coogan's made has been met with derision by the administration. It's only the intervention of a perky ACLU lawyer (Amy Poehler well cast for once as Cricket Feldstein) that has allowed the show to go on.
Albuquerque doubles for Arizona with the film taking advantage of the mountain light. The play within the movie show great technical prowess. Other cast members like Keener, David Arquette, Elizabeth Shue (playing herself), and Melonie Diaz (Be Kind Rewind) are funny enough to occasionally steal the light from Coogan.





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