Release Date: August 22, 2008
Starring: Steve Coogan, Deborah Chavez,
Natalie Amenula, Elizabeth
Shue, Joseph Julian Soria, and
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 92 minutes
Distributor: Focus Features/NBC
Director: Andrew Fleming
Executive Producer: Albert Berger, Michael Flynn
and Ron Yerzx
Producer: Eric D. Eisner, Leonid
Rozhetskin and Aaron Ryder
Writer: Pam Brady and Andrew Fleming
Address Comments To:James Schamus, President
Focus Features/Rogue Pictures
A Division of NBC Universal and General Electric
65 Bleecker St., 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 539-4000
Fax: (212) 539-4099
Dana is a comical mix of many neuroses. When the drama program at school is closed, he decides to write a sequel to Hamlet and stage a unique musical in hopes of saving the program. However, the school rejects his musical. He’s ultimately fired and forced to stage the musical offsite. Meanwhile, his personal life goes from bad to worse.
Always with the cloud of his unsupportive father over him, Dana discovers that he’s infertile. His wife leaves him for their roommate tenant. The banning of the musical by the school draws the attention of the ACLU, which then supports the musical. This draws much attention, and Dana is ultimately successful.
HAMLET 2 begins very comically, and Steve Coogan as Dana is extremely funny. In the third act of the movie, however, when the musical starts, the story turns from a funny character comedy to an over the top story of blasphemy. The musical’s plot is that Hamlet gets a time machine and tries to go back in time to stop the characters in Shakespeare’s tragedy from dying. That setup is humorous.
However, in his time machine Hamlet also picks up Jesus Christ. Jesus appears in the musical numbers dancing a la Michael Jackson complete with suggestive moves. Also, the local homosexual men’s choir provides the singing. Then, to the tune of “Rock Me Sexy Jesus.” the musical cast sings about how Jesus helps them to quit smoking marijuana (“mostly” they add) and tells them to go to church. The song does reference that Jesus died for our sins, but in this context, it’s hard to take that seriously.
Jesus tells Hamlet to drop him off at 33 A.D. The Jesus character comments, “If my father finds out what I’ve been up to, he’s going to crucify me.” Later in the staged musical, the Jesus character is on the cross and looks upward and says, “Father. I forgive you.” In the movie, this is supposed to be the moment when the character Dana (who plays Jesus) chooses to forgive his own father for the lack of support of his arts career. However, it also plays that Jesus is needing to forgive God the Father for the crucifixion. This is complete blasphemy. The Bible tells us that Jesus willingly endured the cross because he desired a relationship with us (Hebrews 12:2). And, to say that God the Father has done something wrong and needs forgiveness is an outright lie, for the Bible tells us that God has never done anything wrong.
So, what could have been a light, funny movie is ruined by this plot twist which makes up the last fourth of the movie. Audience members at the musical carrying crucifixes and Bibles who seemed to have at first been there to protest the musical are in the end singing along and dancing. In fact, all of the people who opposed such a filthy musical, including the school principal and parents, are won over by the musical. It’s never clear why they changed their mind.
One of the students makes a comment that in her prayer group she prays for “the ethnics,” but she still gets nervous around them. The ACLU character is played for laughs as she threatens to sue anyone and everyone around her. While it is somewhat implied, one of the high school students “comes out,” becoming “comfortable with his sexuality.” There is foul language, much of it from teenagers, and there is also a mild scene of teenagers making out. It’s a shame that the filmmakers couldn’t come up with anything more clever for the plot of the musical than to insult God. Media-wise viewers will want to stay away.
Dana’s musical has Hamlet using a time machine and meeting Jesus, who tells Hamlet, “If my father finds out what I’ve been up to, he’s going to crucify me.” Later, on the cross, a Jesus character says, “Father, I forgive you.” In the musical, this is Dana, who plays Jesus, choosing to forgive his own father for his lack of support. However, it also implies that Jesus needs to forgive God the Father for the crucifixion. The blasphemous content of the musical is abhorrent. The Bible tells us that Jesus went willingly to the cross to die for our sins.