Idol Chatter

stevecooganforIC.jpgA lively debate has been going on here between Idol Chatter readers about the controversial comedy “Hamlet 2.” In particular the movie’s big musical number “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” has raised concerns for its irreverent content. I promised I would weigh in once the movie was in theaters, and since it opened in limited release last weekend, the time has come.
“Hamlet 2” certainly does have some laugh-out-loud moments, and the movie will undoubtedly make create some new fans of British actor Steve Coogan, but as a whole the movie is really not as clever as it obviously believes it is. The themes it treads on and the cultural icons it mocks are really old material that are only occasionally given a fresh twist – and for some, I am guessing that will be enough, but I was hoping for a litle bit more.

A sequel to Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is the brainchild of a second-rate actor and pathetic drama teacher Dana Marschz (Coogan) who decides that “Hamlet 2” is the answer to saving the high school drama program. While others wisely mention that a sequel is a problem because most of the characters from the original play are dead, Marschz has the solution: He’ll create a time machine that helps Hamlet go back in time – with a little help from Jesus. Soon the production – and the storyline- are out of control and certain members of the community try to shut it down.
Religious controversy aside for just a minute, I honestly think that “Hamlet 2’s” biggest problem is that it tries to satirize too much. It spoofs the “High School Musical” craze, it riffs on musicals in general and “Jesus Christ Superstar” in particular, it makes fun of inspirational teacher movies, and it mocks sterotypes of Christians, gays, and Hispanics. With so much to poke fun at and only so much screen time, the movie ends up feeling like a hodgepodge of comic bits that have a hit-or-miss feel when it comes to actual laughs.
In terms of courting religious ire, the “Rock Me Sexy Jesus” number is actually not quite as offensive in the movie as it is when you see it out of context , and I would argue that that song is actually not the most offensive moment in the movie, period. There is another musical number that I think has it beat.
Though this movie is being compared to “Napoleon Dynamite” and other recent hot teen flicks, the movie this actually reminds me of the most is the dark comedy “Saved.” It also tried to mock many aspects of teen life, religion, etc. and did so with erratic results, And I can remember conversations with my friends in which we proclaimed how much better the satirizing would have been if only a few Christians would have been brave enough to tackle the same material. That’s exactly how I feel about “Hamlet 2.” I could complain more about it than I have, but there’s no point when Christian storytellers and audiences are still too afraid to tackle the cultural issues of the day with unflinching humor.
Steve-Coogan at

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