Hamlet 2 Review

It is my understanding that our society has the tendency to function in two extremes: telling you that can be whatever you want to be and to never give up on your dreams or telling you to grow up, get a real job and stop living in Fantasyland. Hollywood tends to take the former by offering us stories of inspirational teachers and boxers and pretty much anything else that you would find Hilary Swank in, but is that really the right approach? Do we want people to waste their time striving towards something they could never realistically achieve? This brings me to Hamlet 2, which raises the question: what do you do if you’re simply no good at the only thing you’ve ever aspired to? Give up? Should we as a society tell you to give up? Will you listen? And so the film tries to answer these questions in the most loud, fun and hilarious way possible. Dana Marchz is a high school drama teacher and would-be actor if only he wasn’t so awful at it. Dana is played flawlessly by Steve Coogan, who puts every bit of himself into this overly enthusiastic, delusional character. Dana is a loveable, yet mentally unstable man who refuses to give up, despite his past struggles with alcohol, having a wife who clearly regrets marrying him, and failing miserably at his dream. Putting his acting career on the back burner in favor of teaching, Dana and his class put on poorly received productions based on profitable Hollywood films. It seems that he and his class of two will be forever set in the pattern of putting on these unsuccessful performances, but a chain of events begins that make change inevitable. Due to school budget cuts, most of the extracurricular activities at the school have been eliminated. The result: drama is the only option left and Dana’s class is more than ten times larger. This sets us up for a cliché Hollywood story of troubled intercity kids led by one inspirational teacher with a dream. However, instead of over emphasizing a stereotype, the movie does the complete opposite: these kids are not troubled. They are intelligent and well rounded characters. Yes they back-talk and scoff at Dana, but they have every reason to. He is a complete lunatic! It baffles us that they even follow him at all when the plot gets underway. They have goals and dreams they are more than capable of achieving. They do not need Dana. It is Dana who needs them and deep down he knows this. When it seems that drama is the next activity to be cut, Dana puts a plan into action to save it: his class will put on a production of a sequel to Hamlet, written by Dana himself. Yes…Hamlet 2. We never get a full plot of this production, but the bits and pieces we see are enough to render Hamlet 2 one the funniest films I have ever seen. Plot elements include a time machine, the inclusion of Jesus Christ and Hilary Clinton, and a song entitled “Rock Me Sexy Jesus.” The controversial production is met with a great deal of backlash, which acts as our main plot. There is far too much to say about the Hamlet 2 to talk about everything in one review and the only way to really appreciate it is to watch it for yourself. The film is satire at its finest, from its commentary on the “follow your dream” story arc to its take on the theater to its inclusion of actress Elisabeth Shue playing a fictionalized version of herself. It never takes itself too seriously, but plays it straight enough that we can appreciate its main themes. Does the film encourage us to give up on our dreams? I say decide for yourself, but I don’t think so. It is ironic enough to suggest that we should not take our aspirations too seriously, but good natured enough to imply that there is always a possibility of a happy ending. All in all, it is a side splitting and wildly entertaining film that cleverly pokes fun at inspirational dramas, while also being silly enough to be harmless and fun.


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June 2013
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