Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Hamlet 2 (2008)
Steve Coogan continues to prove that he’s one of the best and oddest comedic actors around with his matchless performance in Hamlet 2, the only problem is that the film is only half as clever as his other starring vehicles 24 Hour Party People and Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story. Coogan pulls out all the stops trying to carry the film, from his sly parody of the “inspirational teacher” character to broader gags like repeatedly injuring himself and showing his ass (twice), but even he can’t overshadow the script problems on display here. Catherine Keener is uncharacteristically bad as Coogan’s long suffering wife, and the conflict with her character seems terribly unformed, as does the lame opposition of the town and the school’s principle to Coogan’s titular play. Director Andrew Fleming and co-writer Pam Brady (of South Park fame) came up with a really great premise here, and it’s a shame that they ended up falling back on old standby jokes for so much of the humor. That being said, the performance of the actual play in the film’s final act is spot on, and has to be seen to be believed (something about Steve Coogan as Jesus just feels so right). Likewise, the late introductions of Amy Poehler as a shit-talking ACLU attorney and Elisabeth Shue in a cameo as herself are unexpected and make for some of the best laughs. But I still wanted more. Coogan is great, and scenes like the one where he tries to cross a busy intersection on roller skates are hilarious, but on the whole he deserved better, especially from such an original idea. Here’s looking forward to his next collaboration with Michael Winterbottom.