The 2008 comedic film Hamlet 2
stars Steve Coogan as high school drama teacher Dana Marschz. A recovering alcoholic and failed actor, Marschz generally has no real pull at the high school where he works; he's also become known more for his poor adaptations of famous films than for his ability to teach anyone anything. At the start of the most recent semester, he learns two things: the school has cut its budget so much that his drama class has become the only arts class left, and even that won't save his department from getting shut down at the end of the semester.
Despondent over the impending loss of his career (as well as numerous other personal issues), Marschz decides to go all out for his last big production in the hopes that he can save the drama program. Out of sheer desperation, Marschz writes a "sequel" to the play Hamlet
which tosses in time travel, Jesus Christ, and the showstopping musical number "Rock Me Sexy Jesus". When the school learns that Marschz plans to put on the patently controversial play at the school, it orders him to stop production.
While Marschz's students rally behind him and make plans to put the play on elsewhere, the school's cancellation of the play catches the attention of Cricket Feldstein (Amy Poehler
), a civil liberties lawyer who turns the issue into a fight for free speech (and makes the play a national story in the process). Her work ends up attracting the attention of numerous other groups, all of whom plan to protest Marschz's one last chance at greatness...
Hamlet 2 contains examples of the following tropes:
- Ambiguously Gay: Rand
- Adam Westing: Elizabeth Shue, who's quit show business and become a nurse.
- Anachronism Stew: Done on purpose.
- Billy Elliot Plot: Subverted with Octavio — his parents don't want to let him do the play, and Marschz assumes because they're Hispanic that it's an example of this. It's not; they're wealthy middle-class pushy parents who don't want him to waste his time on such a terribly-written play.
- Boredom Montage: This gets coupled with the Hard Work Montage when Dana tries to write the play.
- The Chew Toy: Poor Yolanda, who gets injured in almost all of the scenes she appears onscreen
- Captain Obvious: Gary.
- Creator Breakdown: While writing the play, Dana mangles together Christianity, Hamlet, time travel, and his daddy issues.
- Deconstructed Trope: The film serves up a deconstruction of the Save Our Students trope (see below).
- Fix Fic: The play is essentially this for Hamlet, considering how he uses Jesus's time machine to prevent the deaths of his loved ones.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: Cricket gets knocked over at the play and threatens to sue everyone.
- Freudian Excuse: The principal
- Freudian Slip: At one point, Dana calls the principal "Daddy" and screams about how he never believed in him — while they're arguing about something else entirely.
- Giftedly Bad: The entire show. Dana eventually learns to accept this.
- Jesus Was Way Cool: "Rock Me Sexy Jesus".
- Law of Inverse Fertility
- Mushroom Samba: Some of the students slip acid into Dana's iced tea early in the film. He wakes up on an abandoned couch minus his pants.
- Off The Wagon: As part of Dana's Darkest Hour sequence.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Steve Coogan's natural English accent comes through quite a bit.
- No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-Universe, the titular play crosses so many lines that the protest lands it a Broadway run.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: In a rare positive example, Cricket Feldstein uses her knowledge of various laws (especially those surrounding free speech) to keep the show from getting shut down.
- Refuge in Audacity: The whole play pretty much runs on this.
- One of the earlier ads was simply the name of the film, with a voiceover which says, "We apologize to the following groups this film may offend." It then proceeds to list everyone.
- The Rival: in a parody of this trope, Mr. Marschz' rival is the school paper's drama critic — a kid who looks like he's 13.
- Running Gag: No one is able to pronounce Mr. Marschz' name correctly
- Yolanda getting hit in the face with something.
- Save Our Students: The film is a parody of the "inspirational teacher" genre, mainly by making the teacher a pretentious blowhard and the needy kids actually pretty bright (at least some of them).
- One scene has Octavio, a Latino student, telling Mr. Marschz that his parents won't let him do the play. Mr. Marschz proceeds to go to "the barrio" to talk them out of their "ethnic narrow-mindedness," and then pans out to show that Octavio's parents have an enormous house, with his father being an accomplished novelist and his mother a painter, Octavio himself having a 3.9 GPA and early acceptance to Brown, and that their disapproval of the play is not that it's artistic but that it's badly written
- Shout Out: Lampshaded.
- Small Town Boredom: Tucson isn't really smallnote , but given it's described as the place where dreams go to die in the opening monologue...
- Stylistic Suck: "Hamlet 2".
- Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket: One of the opening commercials has Dana playing one of these.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Dana apparently has something like this going on with his own father, and has adopted the school's principal as something of a warped substitute.
- The Voiceless: Yolanda. She finally talks near the end and gives the hungover and depressed Dana a Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! / Reason You Suck Speech.