31 August 2008 | Dan1863Sickles
"Everyone has rain gutters!"
A loser drama teacher with no hope left of a real acting career decides to gamble it all with a controversial new play. Through a bizarre combination of circumstances, a gang of tough Latinos and a handful of nerdy white theater kids join forces to help him realize his dream.
So much is going on in this incredible movie. The script is a rag-bag of old SOUTH PARK gags, (writer Pam Brady worked with Matt Stone and Trey Parker for many years) but it's spiced up with bizarre slapstick moments, celebrity cameos, and some real singing and dancing by a surprisingly charismatic and sexy cast of teen unknowns.
Steve Coogan is the glue that really holds this thing together. Even when the gags fall flat, he has a way of injecting genuine humor into the weirdest situations. "Everyone has rain gutters!" he shouts at a wealthy Mexican couple, for no reason at all. And when he's blocked at the typewriter, trying to write a masterpiece, he takes one look at his adorable pet cat and shouts, "What's your problem?" So stupid on paper, but in the film he makes it hilarious. Coogan has the comic genius of Gene Wilder in classics like YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN, combined with the underdog appeal of Sylvester Stallone in the original classic ROCKY.
If I have any complaints about this film, it's that we don't see nearly enough of the talented teen actors who actually put on the play. I loved it when the prim and proper Epiphany threw herself into the arms of the sexy Mexican boy she'd been arguing with all through the movie, but couldn't there have been a little more development there? In a similar way, I would have liked it more if all the kids had gotten a bit more time to show off their acting skills, since it's obvious all of them are crazy about the stage.
HAMLET 2 makes a big joke out of referencing inspirational teacher movies like DANGEROUS MINDS and MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS, but it's really much more similar to that old teen television show FAME. Or to those old Judy Garland movies where someone says, "hey, kids, let's put on a show!" It also has an irreverent, sophisticated sparkle that reminds me of Shakespeare IN LOVE. Not only is there the obvious connection of making Great Literature into lively entertainment, but there's the sense that the entire film is really a love letter to actors and acting as a profession. That's an engaging premise, especially when you see so much bright young talent being revealed in such unexpected ways.
Go to this movie expecting anything and everything -- you won't be disappointed.