Hamlet 2 (Focus Features, R)

film_hamlet2_sm.jpgLucky for us, we now have Hamlet 2, which brings out the drama nerd in all of us, and is the rare smart, broad comedy.







There clearly aren’t enough movies that cater to the mindset of high school drama nerds. You’d think there would be, after looking at the success rate of the few that there are: High School Musical? Waiting for Guffman? Rushmore? Why aren’t they making more of these? Similarly, there isn’t quite enough of broad, lowbrow comedies that appeal to art-house film snobs. We usually get our fix of these by latching onto something Hollywood cranks out (any Apatow production in recent years, for example). But, lucky for both of these groups, we now have Hamlet 2, which brings out the drama nerd in all of us, and is the rare smart, broad comedy.

The title comes from main character Dana Marschz’ dream project. Marschz (Steve Coogan, seen nine days ago in a very similar but smaller role as the inept director of Tropic Thunder) is the teacher and coach of a Tuscon-area high school’s drama club. Marschz has been spending his most recent years staging ill-advised reimaginings of popular movies to be put on by his high school students (imagine the Max Fischer Players being less talented and putting on Erin Brockovich, and that’s pretty much what you have here), but when he finds out drama has been cut from the school, he needs to write an original play, rise to popularity and raise enough money to save his beloved group of wieners, from which he births the abomination "Hamlet 2."

"Hamlet 2" the play, which we get to see nice portions of, is as thoroughly appalling as we all want it to be. It involves time machines, elaborate stunts and a number called "Rock Me Sexy Jesus," which is way more catchy than it probably should be (although Jesus himself, as played by Marschz as played by Coogan, looks a little too much like Weird Al Yankovic). Hamlet 2 the film, though, is actually pretty smart (if ultimately forgettable), tossing around such nice lines as Marschz lamenting that his life "is a parody of a tragedy," or a run-in with the American Civil Liberties Union due to the school’s refusal to let Marschz put the play on. This can probably be attributed by the fact that the film was co-written by Pam Brady, co-writer of South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut and Team America: World Police (a fact which has been much-hyped in the posters and trailers; don’t be duped into thinking Trey and Matt had anything to do with Hamlet 2 due to some clever marketing), two perennial favorites of art-house snobs looking for a broad Hollywood comedy to latch onto. | Pete Timmermann

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