STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It is a Friday morning. We're heading into the weekend, which means it's time to hear from MORNING EDITION and Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan. The new movie in theaters this week is yet another sequel to a blockbuster -"Hamlet 2." That's right, "Hamlet 2."
KENNETH TURAN: 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, who refuses to say die when his program is terminated.
Instead, much to the astonishment of his wife, he decides to put on a play of his own.
(Soundbite of movie, "Hamlet 2")
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Ms. CATHERINE KEENER (As Brie Marschz): Hamlet 2?
Mr. STEVE COOGAN (As Dana Marschz): The deuce. Correct.
Ms. KEENER: Doesn't everybody die at the end of the first one?
Mr. COOGAN: It's about my troubled relationship with my father.
TURAN: Dana brings the unstoppable enthusiasm of the Energizer Bunny to his love of acting and theater. 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.
(Soundbite of movie, "Hamlet 2")
Mr. COOGAN: Excuse me. I'm sorry to be so forward, but you look a lot like my favorite actress of all time - Elizabeth Shue.
Ms. ELIZABETH SHUE (As herself): Yeah, I am her.
Mr. COOGAN: I'm freaking out. You were wonderful in "Leaving Las Vegas."
Ms. SHUE: Oh, thank you.
Mr. COOGAN: And you were so fabulously funny in "Adventures in Babysitting." Not forgetting "Cocktail" with Tom Cruise. What is he like? He seems totally great. What are you doing in Tucson? Oh, my god. I am freaking out.
Ms. SHUE: I'm actually a nurse now. I just, you know, got kind of sick of the business, you know. Sick of all the horrible people and - anyway, there's a real shortage of nurses out there and I like taking care of people.
Mr. COOGAN: Oh, my god. I didn't hear anything you just said, because I'm too excited.
TURAN: "Hamlet 2" picks up steam with the mounting of the show. For reasons that are never quite explained — how could they be? — "Hamlet 2," the play, has Jesus as a pivotal character. The show's main production number, "Rock Me Sexy Jesus," is really something to see. The father of one of the stars says, I'm simultaneously horrified and fascinated. You'll know just what he means.
INSKEEP: Ken Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and the Los Angeles Times. You can see clips from "Hamlet 2" and read more on this week's movies, including a review of the art house sensation "I Served the King of England," all by going to npr.org.
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