Sunday, October 26, 2008

London Film Festival Day 12 - HAMLET 2

HAMLET 2 is so ridiculous it shouldn't work, but I can happily report that Steve Coogan's latest comedy is laugh-out loud funny from start to finnish. Coogan plays a failed actor, reduced to embarassing commercials and piss-poor high school plays. Even his personal life is a mess - he's unable to get his sarcastic, unsupportive wife pregnant. But despite all this, Dana Marschz remains upbeat about life and art and his enthusiasm is infectious. Even though his plays are openly mocked, he sees no reason not to stage a high school musical called "Hamlet 2". The concept is simple: with the aid of a time machine, Hamlet can stop everyone from getting killed at the end of Hamlet 1, which was, after all, such a downer! The resulting musical, featuring songs about getting "raped in the face" and "sexy Jesus" attracts the ire of the local school board and the attentions of the ACLU before becoming, PRODUCERS-style, a runaway success.

HAMLET 2 is a satire on movies like the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL franchise, where discussing sexuality is forbidden, and those awful high school dramas like DANGEROUS MINDS where a white teacher saves poor ethinic kids through the redemptive power Thomas and kung fu. The writing may be uneven, but more often than not, the satire hits home, and Steve Coogan is just fantastingly funny to watch. I also loved the ironic use of Elisabeth Shue as a disenchanted actress called "Elisabeth Shue", now working as a nurse. You also get some brilliant scene-stealing from Catherine Keener as Dana's wife and Amy Poehler as the ACLU lawyer.

HAMLET 2 played Sundance and London 2008. It opened earlier this year in the US, Canada, Iceland, Greece and Romania. It opens on November 28th in the UK and in the US on August 27th 2009.

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