If you’re looking for the ultimate end-of-summer date movie, go see “Hamlet 2”.
I’ll assume that you’ve already seen “The Dark Knight”. And I hope you saw that on IMAX because, if you didn’t, you fucked up. The cinematographer (Wally Pfister) and director (Christopher Nolan) really knew how to exploit “The IMAX Experience”. The night I saw it, the entire audience audibly moaned, “Wow!” as soon as the opening shot completed its trippy course. It was honestly worth getting home at 4 AM afterwards. Now the big box office champ is “Tropic Thunder”, which I haven’t seen and, because it’s number one, I’ll wait a couple of weeks to fill that void.
So…if you’ve seen one and can’t get into the other, go see “Hamlet 2”. It’s adorable. The ending isn’t going to take you by surprise, but it’s a lot of fun and not a chick flick and holds up well on a big screen. I’ve actually stopped accepting invites to screenings for small meaningful movies because I’m tired of spending an hour and a half watching a movie that will soon be on TV and will look as good on the TV screen as it did on the screening room’s. Last year, that Canadian movie with Julie Christie as an Alzheimer’s victim (“Away From Her”) was great because of the acting and direction (by Sarah Polley), but there were just so many gorgeously bleak Canadian winter vistas I could take before wanting to flee. I grew up in Michigan. I’ve seen enough bleak northern winter vistas. After trying to figure out what Christie had surgically touched up on her face to still look so great, I became so disinterested, I felt like I was going to scream. I didn’t, but I did make a vow to myself to be very wary of the small and seemingly significant. Give me action, fantasy, loud noises, anthemic scores and computer generated über visuals. I want to go for a big fat ride and get explosive bangs for my bucks. Even “Happy Feet” on IMAX was so profound, it made the Radio City Christmas Spectacular seem like a small town dance recital.
“Hamlet 2” will be enjoyable for both men and women. How many movies can you say THAT about? Actually, in my household, I’m the one who loves to see the big holiday and summer movies. My Stella Adler trained hubby HATES those and loves his cinema experiences focused on more intimate and arty fare. He has great taste (like Christopher Nolan’s brilliant “Momento”), but I’m of the opinion that these movies will be on cable soon enough, so why waste the money or the time to see it anywhere but at home? If that makes me a philistine, so be it. And I know that those who are only interested in making those sorts of movies will hate me because it is so hard to get financing for such projects without some dingbat asking, “Why bother? Produce it for HBO or Showtime!”
OK…so I’m not being TOTALLY ingenuous here. Just trying to ruffle a few feathers,…a BIT…maybe…
If you’re not such a cheap common slut as I am, by all means spend your hard-earned dollars on “Hamlet 2”. Steve Coogan is as terrific as he always is. I thought it was so great that Courtney Love dragged his name into the news when she blamed him for being the enabler behind Owen Wilson’s drug-induced meltdown last year. At least America became more familiar with his name. “24 Hour Party People’ was a well-received movie, but most of this country is relatively unfamiliar with him. In England, he’s a comic god, especially because of his “Alan Partridge” TV series. It was a satire of talk show and sports program hosts. I know I’ve seen some episodes of it, but I can’t remember if it was on TV here or in England. It should also help his recognition factor that he’s in “Tropic Thunder”. In fact, maybe you can find a theater that has both movies and, if you’re crafty with your timing, have a Steve Coogan film festival by executing the old two-for-the-price-of-one. Pay for “Hamlet 2” because “Tropic Thunder” is already a hit. Considering the critics’ opinions of “Hamlet 2”, it will probably need the overwhelming support given to all of the other big hit comedy movies that critics usually hate. (Of course, we don’t include Peter Travers of “Rolling Stone” as a critic since he declares all films to be genius and classics so that his blurbs will be used in the movies’ ads and commercials.)
The other person in the movie who comes off great is Elizabeth Shue. Remember her? Well, now you will. There are real wastes of talent, however. Catherine Keener plays Coogan’s wife in much the same way she has played every other role in her career, all of which seem to be shrewish women. David Arquette makes a few very brief appearances as the roommate, but all he does is stand or sit around looking REALLY thin, saying and doing nothing.
As far as the plot, you’ve seen this movie before under many guises. It’s stupid for me to name all of these other movies because Coogan’s character (Dana Marschz) (and don’t bother trying to say that name since an on-going joke throughout the movie involves other characters’ attempts at it) (and, yes, you’ve seen this joke before in other flicks) actually references all of them. Suffice it to say it’s about a dedicated passionate teacher with unruly students. Big surprise how the story unfolds and the characters evolve. However, this is not a satire anywhere near the almost anally dry Christopher Guest level of wit, yet it is not quite as broad or sketch-centric as the “Scary Movie”, “Airplane”, “National Lampoon” (etc. etc) franchises.
Today I was still in such a good mood from having seen “Hamlet 2” last night, I decided to shuck work and go to Coney Island. I’ve lived in NYC since 1979 and I’ve never been to Coney Island. That’s pretty dumb. I had a great time. I went on a couple of rides, splashed around in the water and ate lots of crap. Unfortunately, I had eaten most of it before I went on a little trip to hell called the Break Dancer. By the second phase of this satanic seat (and brain) scrambler, a young Black girl in a neighboring car started screaming, “Let me off this thing NOW!!!!!” (They didn’t)
But, I survived and, despite the feeling of a slight whiplash, the light and happy feeling I’ve enjoyed since seeing “Hamlet 2” has not shaken off. That says something. That says we have a Feel Good Movie on our local screens and it’s one that won’t make you throw-up. If you want to experience THAT, try taking the Break Dancer for a spin after some fried frogs legs and a hot dog.