Hamlet 2 

2008

"Hamlet 2" is the story of Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan), a failed actor who has moved to Tucson, Ariz., to work as a high school drama teacher and let his dreams mummify in the low-humidity desert air. On the first day of the new term, Dana finds that because of arts program cuts in other parts of the school, his drama class is full of unruly "ethnics" who are more interested in text messaging.

If this isn't bad enough, the principal informs him that drama is also going the way of the dodo and he has until the end of the term to find other employment. Dana begins planning a big theatrical event to save drama: a sequel to William Shakespeare's "Hamlet," aptly titled "Hamlet 2." Because everyone dies at the end of "Hamlet," Dana comes up with a device: Hamlet will use a time machine, provided by Jesus, to go back and stop his mother from drinking poison.

While the beginning is funny, it's a little slow compared to the comedic tension that starts to mount as adversity makes Dana come progressively unglued. Essentially, this is what makes "Hamlet 2" brilliant. What starts out as a fair but slightly limp parody of teacher-inspires-social-misfits movies like "Dangerous Minds" slowly morphs into its own mutated soup of convoluted craziness. It's ridiculous and shouldn't work, but does.

While it suffers a bit from arrested character development and a few extraneous moments, "Hamlet 2" more than makes up for it with sheer enthusiasm, inventiveness and a skewed charm all its own.

"?Mike Robertson

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