Why ‘Hamlet 2’ Is the Closest Thing to Live-Action ‘South Park’
When South Park debuted as a couple of profane, crudely animated shorts in the mid-1990s, no one thought it would spawn 25 seasons and one Oscar-nominated movie. By now, the question is: Why only one theatrical movie? Given the show’s continued success, shouldn’t South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut have gotten a bunch of sequels, including a 3D-animated one, a 3D-animated one in 3D and a terrible live-action adaptation?
Well, the last thing already exists: It’s called Hamlet 2, which turns 15 this year.
And yes, it’s terrible in the sense that it’s full of extremely poorly-aged 2000s humor, but it’s also extremely South Park. This is no coincidence since the movie’s co-writer is Pam Brady, best known for writing a bunch of early South Park episodes, along with co-writing Bigger, Longer & Uncut and Team America: World Police with Matt Stone and Trey Parker. (She’s also done other projects like Hot Rod, Lady Dynamite, and... the next Smurfs movie?)
It’s worth noting that Brady’s co-writer and director of Hamlet 2, Andrew Fleming, is gay, so perhaps the movie deserves a pass on the cringeworthy storyline about the obviously closeted gay theater kid. I’m not even gonna try to defend the scene where the entire joke is “this Latino man uses fancy words,” though.
Hamlet 2 follows a failed TV actor (Steve Coogan) who becomes an even bigger failure as a high school drama teacher. When the school threatens to close the Drama Department, Coogan and his students rally together to save it by putting on the greatest play of all time — a Hamlet sequel featuring time travel and co-starring Jesus. After a somewhat awkwardly paced start, it’s during the preparations for the play that the movie finally approaches the carefree absurdity of the early South Park seasons, when the stakes were low, and the cultural references were never more recent than two years old.
In fact, Hamlet 2 shares many of the show’s early trademarks, including stupidly offensive musical numbers, a silent student who is unnaturally prone to violent accidents and inexplicable guest stars. Elisabeth Shue plays herself, Amy Poehler shows up for what appears to be a cameo but turns out to be an important role, David Arquette is just sort of there in many scenes and I already mentioned Jesus.
So, given that Hamlet 2 doesn’t appear to be on any major streaming services and never even came out on Blu-ray, is it really worth the hassle of tracking it down to watch it? Probably not, but if you like South Park, you sorta have to anyway now that you know about it. Sorry.
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