Metro Weekly

Offending the Masses

Willfully offensive and wildly funny, 'Hamlet 2' bitch slaps the bard while 'The House Bunny' is dumb as they come

Hamlet 2 is blasphemy, pure and simple. And it’s not just the musical number ”Rock Me Sexy Jesus” that’s going to have people apoplectic; Shakespeare scholars in particular are going to have their quills in a bunch at the mere audacity of suggesting a sequel to Hamlet. It’s an outrage, start to finish.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s really frickin’ funny?

Hamlet 2 is essentially South Park‘s production of High School Musical, which makes sense since co-writer Pam Brady has a South Park pedigree. And, like South Park, what’s the easiest method to get away with amazingly raunchy and insulting songs like ”Raped in the Face” and ”You’re as Gay as the Day is Long”? Be an equal opportunity insulter. In the hands of Brady and co-writer/director Andrew Fleming it’s not a belittling, biased stereotype, it’s an art form.

Hamlet 2
Hamlet 2

Dana Marschz (Steve Coogan) has left behind his glamorous acting career — boasting IMDB credits like ”man who can’t get apple in juicer” and ”herpes commercial guy” — to eking out a living in Tucson, Arizona, where he stages student adaptations of films like Erin Brockovich and Mississippi Burning. It’s a couple strata below rock bottom.

When the school district floods the class with new kids and then threatens to cut the program altogether, Marschz decides to pen his a musical sequel to Hamlet, where the Dane and Jesus can team up and save Ophelia, Gertrude, and a couple others.

As expected, the film’s script is so far over the top that it’s out of this atmosphere. A bevy of stereotypes populate the movie: the uptight religious girl Epiphany (Phoebe Strole), the repressed homosexual actor Rand (Skylar Astin), the Latino Octavio (Joseph Julian Soria), and the ACLU lawyer Cricket ”I married a Jew” Feldstein (Amy Poehler). Even when you’re amused, you know you should at least pretend to be insulted. But it’s hard to pretend when you’re trying not to pee your pants from laughter.

Starring Steve Coogan
Rated R
92 Minutes

Coogan is absolutely brilliant as the pathetic Marschz. His shtick doesn’t get old, even when he’s fawning over his fertility nurse Elisabeth Shue, who plays herself in a wonderfully self-aware bit. And let’s not forget Marschz’s lovely ode to his wife (Catherine Keener) about trying to impregnate her. If that doesn’t inspire baby-making, nothing will.

With so many jokes crammed into one movie, it’s inevitable that some fall flat. Fortunately, the movie resurrects itself every time and ends with a big finale that might just rival the second coming. In a remarkably heartfelt turn, everyone sees the light: the racist zealot finds her lust, the closet-case comes out, and the hero gets the girls.

In the end, it’s just good, nasty fun. The wise teacher Marschz sums it up best when he says, ”This musical is going to bitch slap Broadway.” Yes, and it hurts so good.

If a dumb movie can make you dumber, then I’m an idiot who sacrificed a lot of brain cells to the fluffy The House Bunny. It’s an inane plot, featuring silly performances, and it might as well have been directed by a 13-year-old girl, because it’s hard to imagine an adult had anything to do in its creation. The worst part is, I actually found myself laughing at times.

Starring Anna Faris
Rated PG-13
97 Minutes
Area Theaters

In actuality, The House Bunny is directed by former Saturday Night Live writer Fred Wolf, but this film proves that he should have stayed behind the desk with a pencil in his hand instead of picking up a camera. His utter ineptitude as a director shines through in nearly every scene, especially the musical montages.

Shelley Darlingson (Anna Faris) is a Playboy Bunny hopeful forced out of the Mansion on her 27th birthday. She takes up residence as the sorority housemother for a rag-tag group of girls who are about to transform from earthworms into butterflies. This scientific error, and many other dumb-blond jokes, carries the film forward more awkwardly than a teen walking in heels for the first time.

Writers Karen McCullah Lutz and Kirsten Smith do manage to get in a couple memorable lines (”The eyes are the nipples of the face!”) and the device Shelley uses to remember names is worth a chuckle every time, but is the $9 ticket price for those laughs too high to pay? Yes.

Maybe I’m just longing for the days of Legally Blonde, when the transformation from ditz to heroine came with more depth and character development, but like the stack of Playboys I found in high school, The House Bunny should go untouched.

From YouTube: ‘Hamlet 2’ trailer
From YouTube: ‘The House Bunny’ trailer