'Hamlet 2': Something Deliriously Rotten

Steve Coogan i i

hide captionDana Marschz (Steve Coogan) makes one wonder if the gym-teacher maxim should be changed to, "Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach high school drama."

Cathy Kavany/Focus Features
Steve Coogan

Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) makes one wonder if the gym-teacher maxim should be changed to, "Those who can't do, teach. Those who can't teach, teach high school drama."

Cathy Kavany/Focus Features

Hamlet 2

  • Director: Andrew Fleming
  • Genre: Comedy, Action
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

Rated R: All of the vulgarity of Shakespeare's comedies, plus a production number starring Jesus in a wife-beater.

Steve Coogan and Skylar Astin i i

hide captionHudgens and Efron — watch out. Dana (Steve Coogan) and Rand (Skylar Astin) perform in the worst high school musical of all time.

Steve Coogan and Skylar Astin

Hudgens and Efron — watch out. Dana (Steve Coogan) and Rand (Skylar Astin) perform in the worst high school musical of all time.

What can I say about Hamlet 2 that its title doesn't already tell you? This is an unhinged, off-the-wall comedy; yes, it's uneven, but the hits are so dead-on that the misses don't seem to matter.

Hamlet 2 comes to life because of the all-out performance of Steve Coogan as Dana, a high-school drama teacher in Tucson, Ariz., who refuses to say die when his program is terminated.

Instead, much to the astonishment of his wife (Catherine Keener), he decides to put on a play of his own: a sequel to, yes, the story of the Dane. (Never mind that everyone dies at the end of the original.)

Dana brings the unstoppable enthusiasm of the Energizer Bunny to his love of acting and directing. Unfortunately, he's never been very good at either.

The one bright spot in Dana's life is that he runs into his favorite actress of all time — Elizabeth Shue, deftly played by Shue herself — at the Prickly Pear Fertility Clinic. Sick of the Hollywood fame game, she's found a new gig as a nurse.

Hamlet 2 picks up steam with the mounting of the show. For reasons that are never quite explained — how could they be? — Dana's sequel turns out to be a musical with Jesus as a pivotal character, and the show's main production number, "Rock Me Sexy Jesus," is really something to see.

When the father of one of the stars says, "I'm simultaneously horrified and fascinated," you'll know just what he means.

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