Hamlet 2



High school theater spoof lacks some spark.
  • Review Date: August 19, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 2008
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A teacher swears in front of his students and accidentally hurts one of them; they clearly show no respect for him (they call him "moron," among other things). His wife belittles him, too. But he doesn't give up hope. In fact, in his own blissfully ignorant way, he manages to inspire and free his inner artist. The movie mercilessly mocks everything from the theater crowd to religion. Infidelity is treated humorously.


A man contemplates suicide; some brawls erupt; a girl keeps falling and getting hit by objects.


Conversations about the mechanics of getting pregnant, some kissing, lewd jokes. A man's naked backside is flashed -- he has writer's block and takes off his pants to get inspiration -- and there are allusions to his "balls" being flashed.


Language includes plenty of salty words, including "s--t" and "f--k." Not as frequent as some other R-rated movies, though.


Mentions of various Hollywood movies (Erin Brockovich, The Karate Kid, etc.); actress Elisabeth Shue is revered. And of course, Hamlet is referenced often. Also, Jack LaLanne products and fake commercials for herpes medications.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Teens drink while out with their teacher; they later spike his non-alcoholic beverage with LSD or another psychedelic; his wife drinks a gigantic margarita.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this comedy is set in high school, it's not really a "teen comedy." In fact, it takes a no-holds-barred approach to poking fun at religion, theater, commercialism, racism, reproductive technologies, actors, the ACLU, and anything and everything else. One song is centered on a "rock star" version of Jesus, and there are plenty of jokes that some people may consider crude or vulgar. There are also scenes of underage drinking and drug use, a flash of a man's naked backside, and plenty of salty language.

What's the story?

You could say that David Marschz (Steve Coogan) is a failure. An actor who never landed more than the occasional gig for a home shopping network or herpes medicine ad, he's now a drama teacher in Tucson -- where his biggest nemesis is the fourth-grade drama critic who never likes any of his plays. (And why should he? They're stagings of Hollywood blockbusters like Erin Brockovich.) When school budget cuts spell the end of the drama program, Marschz decides to put on one final masterpiece: a sequel to Hamlet (featuring, naturally, a rock-star Jesus). Aiding him in his mission are two theater geeks -- judgmental Epiphany (Phoebe Strole) and closeted Rand (Skylar Astin) -- and their new classmates: Latino kids from what they assume are tougher neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Marschz's stoic brother (David Arquette) has just moved in with Marschz and his wife (Catherine Keener) -- who insists that now's the time to get pregnant.

Is it any good?


Loaded with ideas -- some amusing, some daring -- HAMLET 2 (which premiered at Sundance) is a cheeky comedy that doesn't quite hits its mark. On paper, it feels like it should be a walk in the park -- or, rather, South Park, on which one of Hamlet 2's co-writers worked. But although it pushes the envelope, humor-wise, it feels like a Christopher Guest movie without the spark. The ensemble fails to vibe on each other's wackiness, and their eccentricities feel contrived.

Which isn't to say that the movie doesn't have some entertaining moments. A cameo by Elisabeth Shue is especially satisfying, as is Amy Poehler's role, and the students are more than watchable. But for a film this out-there to really work, everyone has to feel committed to the insanity -- and, apart from Coogan, they just don't seem so. That said, when Marschz's musical finally gets its moment under the lights, it feels bizarrely, hilariously transcendent.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the message behind all the over-the-top humor: Why is Marschz compelled to stage one more play, and an original one at that? What's the message of the play? Also, what prejudices does the film make fun of? Does it do an effective job of making its point? What would you say that point is? What genres is the movie satirizing?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 22, 2008
DVD release date:December 22, 2008
Cast:Catherine Keener, David Arquette, Steve Coogan
Director:Andrew Fleming
Studio:Focus Features
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language including sexual references, brief nudity and some drug content.

This review of Hamlet 2 was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written byoctober1985 July 12, 2009
Fairly tame movie. Yes there is profanity and some sexual content. It's also a bit offensive to christians. It's also pretty smart and funny!
Teen, 13 years old Written byPokeypics May 15, 2010

Perfect for kids 12 and up, Who like Edgy humor

this movie says its "Comedy Heaven, and "Dementedly Hilarious" Its right, this movie is very very funny, and dont be fooled into thinking that ts bashing religion its not, its kind of parodying Jesus Christ Superstar.It may carry an R rating, only because of the song, that was taken too seriously. This movie will make you laugh and if youre kids watch it they'll laugh and appeciate the film's main charachter Steve Coogan as he makes a bunch of underprivileged kids feel good. He is left by his wife and friend( which is a scene that actually affects you) he reches his dreams and gets the girl Elizabeth Shue. The movie is feel good and risky at times, but the ending musical number " Rock me Sexy Jesus" is not bad at all(aside from the title) and very catchy, adult will love this humor and kids (who can handle it will too.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Teen, 17 years old Written bymilograamans August 2, 2009

Intentionally offensive, but half-decent escape entertainment

While it has been noted that this film isn't as full of expletives as other R-rated movies, the expletives are not casual conversation or ordinary reactions to unpleasant situations. Every expletive seems to be deliberately said so as to offend the audience...some of this may be due to the poor acting. Also the sexual jokes (including the scene of Coogan flashing) seem to have that same deliberate provoking intent. Also Coogan's character is not a very good role model, as is shown for example when teens drink in his presence and he doesn't stop them.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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