The month of August has been a good one for comedy. There have been a couple of very funny, very R-rated comedies of the high profile variety in Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder, plus the underachieving The Rocker, and even The House Bunny, all providing good doses of laughter this month.
As August comes to a close Hollywood gives us one chance at laughter before the symbolic end of summer passes us by. That film turns out to be the very humorous, and very non-politically correct, Hamlet 2. This also happens to be the first American film with Steve Coogan in the lead. The British comedian has had a number of supporting roles over the past few years, including Tropic Thunder. Perhaps this film will help him break through with the American audience.
Coogan stars as Dana Marschz (pronounced with something akin to a buzz), a failed actor who has stepped away from the business (while still looking for a way in) to become a drama teacher in a Tucson high school. It turns out he isn't all that good at either. His class consists of two overly eager, teacher's pet types in Rand (Skylar Astin) and Epiphany (Phoebe Strole) and the plays are meant to be ironic takes on popular films, the latest being Erin Brokovich. This latest production becomes just another in a long line of plays to be savaged by Dana's arch-enemy, a pint sized school theater critic, Noah (Shea Pepe). The youngster offers Dana some advice: "Do something original." This sets the failed actor off in a new direction.
This new direction is given further importance by the fact the drama department is becoming the next casualty of budget cuts, hot on the heels of other arts education classes. So, being the only arts class left, Marschz finds his class greatly expanded beyond the initial two to include a large group of Latino students, causing Epiphany great anxiety. Our fearless teacher sees this as an opportunity to inspire, with obviously comedic results.