Movie reviews

Hamlet 2

It’s like Waiting For Guffman, only funny

Picked up by Focus Features at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Hamlet 2 is one of the funniest inappropriate indie comedies of the year.

Steve Coogan, most recently known for playing the unprepared director in Tropic Thunder, plays a failed actor teaching theater in a Tucson high school. After producing several horrible school plays based on major Hollywood movies, the school board decides to cut the theater department after the ongoing season.

In order to save the program, the recovering-alcoholic teacher and his misfit theater geeks commit themselves to putting on a controversial original play, Hamlet 2 — a musical sequel to Shakespeare’s classic.

Throughout Hamlet 2, you only rarely see scenes from the play and hear little about the plot. The dialogue primarily gives vague indications about abstract plot points, like Hamlet and company using a time machine to visit such historical figures as Albert Einstein and Jesus Christ. But when you see the finished production near the end of the film, it is completely worth the wait.

Although the trailers for Hamlet 2 mostly show offensive and blasphemous R-rated content, there is a whole lot more to the film than just that. Hamlet 2 is a brilliant commentary on the entertainment business and what they find acceptable and unacceptable — even before having seen the finished product. And amidst all the satire, Hamlet 2 never loses a bit of its laugh-out-loud comedy.

Henry Poole is Here

This summer’s delightful feel-good comedy

Much like last year’s sleeper comedy Lars and the Real Girl, Henry Poole is Here is a quiet indie flick sneaking its way onto the radar. It’s the best little movie that nobody will ever see unless they put forth the effort.

Luke Wilson plays Henry, a quiet man hiding more than he’ll let on to. Without giving a reason or even a clue as to why, Henry moves back into the neighborhood he grew up in for an announced, short period of time.

Although trying to live in solitude, Henry gets the attention of everyone in the neighborhood when a portion of his wall’s water-stained stucco reveals the face of Christ. For everyone, the ensuing journey is one of faith and hope, trials and miracles.

While the focal incident of Henry Poole is evocative of the Catholic faith, it is in no way limited to appreciation by those of the Catholic faith. The themes and morals of the story are meant to inspire any person going through hardships in life.

If the story and emotionality of the film alone weren’t enough to make Henry Poole a great film, all of the other components of filmmaking would. Though composed mostly of unknown actors, the cast is brilliant and perfect. The soundtrack creates a fitting mood and atmosphere. And the cinematography is beautiful, never showing a trace of its low budget.

Much like Lars and the Real Girl, I suspect that, before long, Henry Poole Is Here will gain fans through word of mouth. But why wait until then to see it? Why not start spreading the word yourself? Henry Poole is definitely worth putting forth some extra effort to see. With a PG rating, it’s a film fit for anyone and everyone.

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