Every year there are dozens of movies that get released that some people just won’t get. There are some types of films, comedies especially, that reach only a specific type of audience — and it is the size of that niche audience that determines how well the film will do. Take a movie like 2006’s Hot Rod — there were some that loved it, and it did alright at the box office. Then again, there are a lot of people that just didn’t get it. Hamlet 2, directed by Andrew Fleming (Nancy Drew, Dick) is one of those movies — you will either get it, or you won’t.
Case in point was the screening that I attended today here at the Sundance Film Festival. With prior knowledge that this film was purchased for $10 million dollars on Tuesday I went into it with mixed expectations, as did most of the other journalists in the packed screening room. As the film wore on, it was clear that some people (myself included) were getting it and it was causing them to laugh almost uncontrollably. As for the others — well, they just didn’t get it.
The story centers on Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan, Hot Fuzz, Night at the Museum), an eccentric drama teacher at a high school in Tucson, Arizona who takes on a class full of thugs, hell bent on teaching them about theater, something we are never too sure he knows much about. But when the school puts the kibosh on his theatrical renditions of Erin Brockovich and Dead Poets Society, Dana is forced to write something original — his own sequel to the classic Hamlet, complete with a musical number called “Rock Me Sexy Jesus”.
And if the title of the musical number speaks to you in any way, this is a film that you could very well enjoy. It is in essence a hysterical snarky comedy in the same vain as South Park (in fact, it was written by Pam Brady, who worked on South Park) mixed with the nutty antics of say, Monty Python. Steve Coogan is the key to it all, as he delivers a wacky, outlandish performance. His character is over-the-top and completely oblivious, leading him into some laugh out loud funny situations.
As well, this film wins over its niche audience based on its dedication to its own tone. There is nothing serious about this film — in fact it is quite ridiculous and completely tongue-in-cheek overall — but it is also unwavering. At no point does the film shift gears and try to add another dimension — it is cool with just being a one dimensional, stupid comedy. And if you can accept that and relax long enough to allow yourself to enjoy it, then you are in for a good time at the movies. With some dark parody and some ridiculous dialog — including the best possible use of the term “bag of dicks” that I’ve ever seen — Hamlet 2 is as close as we will ever get to South Park for thespians.
Keep an eye on our Sundance 2008 Homepage for more from Park City.