The Steve Coogan weekend continues. After getting a small dose of Coogan last night in Tropic Thunder, I saw his star turn in Hamlet 2 at a screening put on by the NYU Tisch West Cinema Club, which was followed by a talkback with two of the actresses from the film, Phoebe Strole and Melanie Diaz. They didn’t have a great deal to say about the movie and neither do I.
Hamlet 2, a Sundance sensation earlier this year, tells the story of a high school drama teacher, former small time actor Dana Marschz (Coogan, brilliant), whose life is falling apart around him. Desperately clinging to a script that he wrote, a patently obscene sequel to Hamlet, he and his drama class attempt to perform against opposition from families and administrators.
The cut has apparently evolved from Sundance. According to a friend who saw the movie there, the changes were pretty imperceptible. It was definitely streamlined, she said, especially near the end, where it seemed to be missing a musical number. She didn’t mind and said it played better shorter. I agree.
Hamlet 2 has some jokes that are tired (gay jokes), some jokes that fall flat (impotence jokes) and many that land. What this reported $9M movie has over Tropic Thunder is that it has some real heart to it. This silly comedy actually becomes a paean to freedom of speech and the transformative power of theater. It won’t win any Tonys (or Oscars), but it’s a ton of fun.