HAMLET 2 is a film in which drive and desire attempt to trump a complete lack of talent. Coogan is Dana Marschz, a failed actor with uncertain rollerblading skills and daddy issues who has found refuge as a drama teacher in a Tuscon Arizona high school. Faced with a funding crisis and a savage, but accurate 9th-grade drama critic, Dana throws what little caution he has to the wind and devises his dream project, the eponymous and musical Hamlet 2, never mind that pretty much everyone dies at the end of Hamlet 1. The film co-stars Catherine Keener, David Arquette, Amy Poehler, and Elizabeth Shue as herself. The film was written by Pam Brady & Andrew Fleming, and directed by Fleming. It broke records for his purchase price at this year’s Sundance festival. Coogan’s previous work includes bringing to life the similarly less than brilliant chat show host Alan Partridge, a mole in THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS, Tony Wilson in 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE, a supercilious version of himself in Jim Jarmusch’s COFFEE AND CIGARETTES, a less supercilious version of himself as well as the title character and his father in TRISTRAM SHANDY, a not-at-all version of himself in HAPPY ENDINGS, the prolific diarist Samuel Pepys, and the peripatetic Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days. He will soon be seen in TROPIC THUNDER
Where do dreams go to die? That’s the question posed at the beginning of HAMLET 2, a comedy about the triumph of enthusiasm over talent. The answer to that question is Tucson, Arizona, at least for Dana Marschz, a spectacularly untalented actor turned equally untalented drama teacher at a high school there. Driven from a career that included a juicer commercial and being a stand-in for Robin Williams on one of the latter’s less successful flicks, Dana has channeled his broken dreams into turning popular films into high school productions, films like ERIN BROCKOVICH and MISSISSIPPI BURNING. It’s as awful as it sounds.
HAMLET 2 may, in passing, offer up a reasoned and even provocative consideration of the place of art in society, the responsibility of the artist. Interesting, sure. But the more important thing is that it is wicked and sublimely savage as it makes those elements manifest in the most unlikely of fashions. And the most important thing is this. It will make you laugh out loud. A lot.