There is that breed of comedy that is "the Sundance comedy". Distributors drool over them like low-budget horror films. They are cash cows for small scale theater chains residing within 5-10 miles of a college campus. And, they usually carry a cult following that will start blogs/fan sites dedicated to their "new favorite movie". Members of this sub-genre are: The Tao of Steve, Thank You For Smoking, American Movie, Little Miss Sunshine, The Squid and The Whale, Thumbsucker, Saved!, and Garden State.
Focus Features is betting on Hamlet 2 to be 2008's addition to that group. Before it's nationwide release in August, Hamlet 2 has already generated buzz because of a $10 million dollar deal it hooked immediately following a screening at Sundance. The movie tycoons know what they're doing. With small-time quirk comedy at an all-time bankable high - following Best Picture noms for Little Miss Sunshine and Juno - Hamlet 2 is a safe bet on becoming a money maker. Just like the surefire box office power of horror and sci-fi films, it doesn't matter if these comedies are quality. Cuz, be warned... Hamlet 2 is not!
Steve Coogan plays a high school drama teacher with a bad haircut, a goofy collection of slacks, and a wife that resents him for his low sperm count. He also rollerblades to school because he's gotten one too many DWIs (yuk, yuk!). His only pupils are a fundamentalist Christian gal, and an overzealous gay guy.... STOP RIGHT THERE.... Yes, all of the tired and obvious jokes about fundies and gays that you just thought of are recycled in this film... RESUME... After an inner city school is consolidated, a group of Hispanic students transfer in and mistaken the school's stage area as a hangout.... STOP!.... Yes, all of the tired and obvious jokes about latinos and whites that you just thought of are recycled in this film....
You know where I'm going with this, and so you should know where the movie ends up going as well. Coogan, especially, is a chore. He seems to have misread 40 years of American comedic acting and thought he could roll-with-it the way he does with his English material. However, the biggest disappointment is that, as a teen comedy, Hamlet 2 offers nothing humorous, touching, or relatable about the teen experience.
True, the version of the film I saw is an early one, and perhaps there is some final tweaking to be done before August. But unless the makers and producers get together, cut 74 minutes, dub over the scenes with new dialogue, and insert some post-production cameos of Ellen Page and Abigail Breslin, Hamlet 2 is destined for the 4 for $20 movie bin at Hollywood Video.
.... but it'll make some money first.