“The hit, the very palpable hit” of the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Hamlet 2 is an irreverent comedy centering on one teacher’s overzealous quest to mount a high school musical. The film is directed by Andrew Fleming (Dick, Threesome) from an original screenplay he wrote with Pam Brady (South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut, Team America: World Police); the stars are Steve Coogan (Night at the Museum), Catherine Keener (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), David Arquette (the Scream movies), Amy Poehler (Saturday Night Live), and Academy Award nominee Elisabeth Shue as herself.
Mr. Coogan portrays Dana Marschz; the last name is pronounced…oh, any attempt is close enough, really. Dana is a failed actor-turned-high school drama teacher. Shortchanged in the talent department, Dana still harbors ambitions and passions. At work, that is; his personal life, with his dissatisfied wife Brie (Ms. Keener) and their boarder Gary (Mr. Arquette), leaves much to be desired.
At Tucson, AZ’s West Mesa High School, Dana sees himself as an inspirational teacher. But his adaptations of popular films, as performed by his top students Rand and Epiphany (Skylar Astin and Phoebe Strole, both stars of Broadway’s Spring Awakening), are not resonating. When his latest – re-creating Erin Brockovich – is dismissed by the 9th grade drama critic and his department is targeted for closure, Dana must reach deep into himself for creativity.
After much perspiration, he conceives a sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet – a musical-theater extravaganza that will disdain both political correctness and dramatic credibility. Rallying and rousing his class, Dana casts a wider net by recruiting transfer students like Ivonne (Melonie Diaz of Be Kind Rewind) for key roles. With rehearsals underway, objections from school officials and the community are soon raised, but Dana will not be denied his freedom of artistic expression. After all, “to thine own self be true.” Dana gets unexpected support from ACLU attorney Cricket Feldstein (Ms. Poehler) and his favorite actress, Elisabeth Shue. Above all else, he fervently believes that his opus must be staged, and nothing can break his optimistic spirit.