Mr. Movie

'Hamlet 2' not quite funny enough

There is nothing wrong with Hamlet 1.

It doesn’t need further explanation. The Bard locked down all the loose ends and there is just no need for a sequel.

Hamlet 2, of course, is not an actual sequel. My opening statement is a joke and one that’s not that funny. But neither is Hamlet 2 so we’re even.

It casts comedian Steve Coogan as an actor whose claim to fame is a couple of notable supporting appearances and a few commercials. He’s now a “didn’t you used to be” stuck teaching drama in Tucson, Arizona. Coogan’s Dana Marschz is forced to work with kids and school officials that don’t care. His wife — done wonderfully by a much-wasted Catherine Keener — is bored with Tucson and, like the other characters she doesn’t care.

By the time you get to Marschz hitting on the idea of writing a sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet and turning it into a musical, you won’t care either.

The story is hard to like but the performance of Coogan and his co-stars is not. You can’t really call Coogan’s manic, non-stop whine acting. It’s more like irritation on steroids. He’s surrounded by talented newbees that like the career of Coogan’s Marschz, you’ll never hear from again.

The concept is clever. The execution is where Hamlet 2 suffers. Not that the film is all low notes and no highs. When it manages the occasional rise to the occasion, the laughs come easy. A good example is Elisabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas) playing Elisabeth Shue. Another high point is the song Rock Me Sexy Jesus.

Very funny stuff — just not enough of it. And a quote from Hamlet’sact I, scene II tells me William Shakespeare might agree: “That it should come to this!”

Mr. Movie rating: 2 1/2 stars

Rated R for mature themes, language. It’s playing at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself

Brick Lane

Brick Lane’s main character, Nazneen, is a Muslim who grew up in Bangladesh and was forced into a loveless marriage as a teenager. She is played by Tannishtha Chatterjee.

Flashbacks to her childhood are full of colors, happy adventures with her sister, and images she cannot let go of as an adult.

Modern-day Nazneen lives in England. Her world is metaphorically dark and gloomy. She has no love for the overweight boorish husband and envies her sister whose letters are filled with tales of travel, adventure and many lovers.

Fate gives Nazneen her own lover.

Brick Lane is not a great movie. It often devolves into a too involved whine fest. There are places where the story of forbidden love slows to an uncomfortable stall and has you wondering if there’s a point.

What keeps you staying are superb performances, especially Satish Kaushik as Nazneen’s egotistical husband, and a rare and fascinating glimpse into the nuts and bolts of a Muslim family attempting to adapt to the Western world.

Toward the end, when Brick Lane has slogged through much that seems pointless, you find dimensions have been quietly layered into the story and that perspective has shifted in most unexpected and satisfying ways.

Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, sex. It opens today at the Carmike 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself

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