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{Hamlet 2}

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I was invited to an advanced screening of the forthcoming comedy tentatively titled Hamlet 2 last night. The comedy is about a failed actor-turned-worse-high-school-drama teacher (Steve Coogan) who rallies his students and stages a modern day musical sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Hamlet 2 is directed by Andrew Fleming (Dick, Nancy Drew) and co-written by Fleming and Pam Brady (South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, Team America, Hot Rod). The film stars: David Arquette, Catherine Keener, Amy Poehler, and Elisabeth Shue.

Hamlet 2 was one of the first (and biggest) sales at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, claimed by Focus Feaures for a reported $10 million.

Let's start with what doesn't work. Like does the silly male student who adores Dana have to be so swishy? Do the Latino students who wind up in Dana's (Coogan's) class have to be so horribly stereotyped? What's with the racist Christian girl who suddenly becomes enamored by the Latino kids culture? Then there's Amy Poehler (an ALCU lawyer ready to defend Dana's production), who's lines are written with the word 'Jew' as the punchline?

There are plenty of funny of moments, such as in the opening scenes that portray just how down-and-out Coogan's charactor is. The scenes toward the end of the film, during the musical, are also especially funny. See the "I feel like I've been raped in the face!" or the "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" numbers for examples.

At the end of the day this movie still needs plenty of editing, but there certainly is a comedy to work with here. I wish I had a trailer for you, but their keeping this one on lockdown for now.

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