Thursday, June 10, 2004

Something About Hamlet: Reviewed By a Guy Who Knew Someone Who Thinks They Saw This Flick

Hamlet (frat boy Adam Sadler) offers a riveting performance as a carefree, college party animal living the good life when he is informed of his father's death and mother's marriage to his Uncle Claudius (Bill Murray in his best role since "Stripes"). Claudius, who has taken over control of Hamlet's father's business empire, immediately orders Hamlet home. Hamlet's funds are cut off and unable to return to the college life he loves, he is offered a tidy sum to court Ophelia (lovely Kate Hudson wearing too many clothes). But her brother Laertes (ferret-like Will Ferrell) suspects Hamlet's carnal intentions and schemes to break up the relationship.

Meanwhile, Hamlet's friend Horatio (high-strung Ben Stiller) sees Hamlet's father's ghost (overacted by Patrick Stewart) and freaks out in his most hilarious neurotic episode since "Along Came Polly". Hamlet eventually has a reluctant conversation with his father's ghost, who informs him he must renounce his slacker ways and get a job in order to save the family business and wrest control from his evil Uncle. However, Hamlet decides instead to fake a nervous breakdown, giving him time to work on his murder mystery screenplay. Suffering from severe writer's block, he decides to use his father's murder as the template for his languishing screenplay.

Claudius is preparing to send his seemingly deranged and extremely annoying nephew off to England to a secluded drug rehabilitation clinic when Hamlet finally finishes and sells his screenplay. Claudius comes across Hamlet's direct-to-video movie on HBO and is furious that he was not included in the credits of this unauthorized biography.
When Hamlet catches Claudius on the phone with his lawyer, he considers killing him then, but decides against it. Instead, he confronts his mother, Gertrude (lantern-jawed Glenn Close in a familiar role) about copyright infringement. But Hamlet suddenly sees the ghost of his father again and freaks out Sadler style in one of the funniest scenes of the entire movie. However, this convinces his mother that drug rehab might indeed be a wise option.

So Hamlet is now hurriedly sent off to England. When he discovers his film has been pirated and bootleg copies are being sold on the Internet, he immediately returns home to file a lawsuit. But back at the castle, Ophelia is grieving the death her father and the emotional abandonment by Hamlet, and like everybody else in this neurotic movie, she freaks out, and drowns herself in one of the movies more poignant scenes. Laertes vows revenge while back on spring break, and plots with Claudius to kill Hamlet with a poison letter opener. Claudius also secures a poison keg of beer, just in case.

As Hamlet arrives home (just as Ophelia is being buried), he tells Horatio that Uncle Claudius has set him up. Horatio (Stiller)....freaks out in a scene reminiscent of his role in "Something About Mary". Laertes suddenly falls through the door and challenges Hamlet. Highly irritated by Laertes' whiny voice, Hamlet goes into a berserker-rage, getting into a room-clearing brawl that imitates the famous Happy Gilmore/Bob Barker fight-scene.
After an intense struggle over the letter-opener, he stabs Laertes in the hand with it. Gertrude, unaware of the poisoned keg kept in reserve in case Laertes is too big a wimp to finish Hamlet off, succumbs to the seductive allures of an ice-cold keg and poisons herself, too. Dying in a drunken stupor, she confesses Claudius' treachery and Laertes nods in silent affirmation.
Hamlet then confronts his Uncle Claudius, who cynically verbally assaults him in the way only Bill Murray could. Indulging the audience, Hamlet kills Claudius with a tire iron and finishes off the keg, expiring with a loud belch of satisfaction that would have Shakespeare turning over in his grave. While not perfect, this film adaptation is sure to please Sadler fans, while insulting any English Literature majors foolish enough to wander in. A sure sign of success in Hollywood.

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