Hamlet 2 – A Movie Review

I loved the ridiculousness of this movie!

Hamlet 2 is about a failed actor who teaches a drama class at a local high school.  He only has two students and they produce horrendous play after horrendous play adapted from popular movies.  One day, though, his class is invaded by shop and home economics students after those programs got cut.  He soon finds out his program is in danger as well, and so he must win over these disinterested students while writing and producing the play-to-end-all-plays if he wants his classes to continue.  His magnum opus?  Hamlet 2!

Actually, on paper, this sounds like a reasonable plot.

It’s not.

And that’s the whole point.  Hamlet 2 is over-the-top and incredibly funny.  It takes every feel-good cliché from high school drama movies and twists them in a delightfully perverse manner.  However, oddly enough, like the final production of the play, Hamlet 2 (the movie) has an alarming amount of heart and soul and somehow forces the audience to care about these characters.  It’s not a “dramedy,” not by a long shot, but it has elements of a serious movie accomplished by the sheer investment of its actors and actresses in such an outrageous premise.

Speaking of whom, Steve Coogan was just brilliant.  He pulled off the numbskull actor so well … I’m sure he’s worked with quite a few who served as inspiration.  His idiotic character is just so pathetic, yet so enthusiastic – you can’t help but love him!

The whole notion of writing a sequel to Hamlet … it’s so … ironically original!  And then, well, not to ruin the climax of the film, but let’s just say that Coogan’s play is not bound by the confines of genre.  Believe me when I tell you that I would pay good money to go see the fruits of Coogan’s character’s efforts!

If you’ve ever attempted to sing, act, or write, you will love this movie and feel quite embarrassed when you see many instances of yourself in it.  Go in with a good sense of humor and you will adore Hamlet 2.

Tropic Thunder – A Movie Review

There’s no doubt in my mind that Tom Cruise made this movie.  I’m no Cruise apologist, but he was absolutely hilarious and nearly unrecognizable as a fat, balding, foul-mouthed movie executive.

With that being said, Tropic Thunder was really very funny.  I’m not sure it’s as good as many make it out to be, but its star-power alone (most of whom brazenly goof on themselves) guarantees entertainment. 

If you’re not familiar with the plot, Ben Stiller plays a Tom Cruise-ish action star hoping to revive his career in a movie based upon a book called Tropic Thunder, written by Nick Nolte’s character, a solider who supposedly helped rescue his POW friends.  Robert Downey, Jr., plays an Oscar-winning Australian who undergoes surgery in order to play a black solider.  Jack Black plays a Chris Farley (or Jack Black) style of actor who’s made his living on fart jokes.  Matthew McConaughey plays Stiller’s agent, and he, like Cruise, gives an unusual and therefore appreciated performance.  Finally, Steve Coogan plays the director of this movie-within-a-movie.

With all the self-obsessed actors <ahem!> acting up, Nolte’s character suggests Coogan drops them into the jungle for real in order to get honest emotions.  Before long, things go awry and Stiller’s character is taken prisoner by a drug cartel.  The other actors now must decide if they head for home or launch a daring rescue operation, just like the movie they were previously making.

While I love Ben Stiller, every character he plays is essentially the same.  Jack Black, too, suffers largely from this dilemma.  Downey, Jr., as a black man got old after a while, but I believe this was actually done on purpose focusing upon method actors’ inability to reclaim their own persona.  Nick Nolte was funny, but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t on purpose.  I was glad to see McConaughey playing a role that didn’t involve a romantic comedy, and Steve Coogan’s performance, while short, was typically wonderful.  As I said, though, the surprising scene-stealer was far and way Tom Cruise.

Tropic Thunder was funny, entertaining, and fast-paced, but it wasn’t horribly original and the acting, other than Cruise and Downey, Jr., wasn’t anything you haven’t seen before from the movie’s stars.