Though there hasn't been any thing nearly as good as "Superbad," I have to say the comedies of August have been surprisingly good. I'd put "Vicky Christina Barcelona" and "Tropic Thunder" on top, and "Hamlet 2" somewhere in the middle of the pack.
The main problem is that - for the first time for me - a little Steve Coogan goes a very long way. I've loved movies he's carried in the past, especially "Tristram Shandy" and "24-Hour Party People," but here he takes an already annoying character and just beats us to death with it. Luckily, his supporting players, including the always-welcome Catherine Keener as his wife and Elizabeth Shue as, well, Elizabeth Shue, and also the mostly Hispanic students in his drama class all fare much better.
And it's an odd consequence that Melonie Diaz (who I've been hooked on ever since "Raising Victor Vargas") has appeared this year in both this and "Be Kind Rewind," the movie it most resembles in structure and tone. Like Michel Gondry's flick, this one kind of meanders around a bit at the start, then builds to a very funny finish.
As I expected, director Andrew Fleming and co-writer Pam Brady keep the jokes coming fast, but they work best when they keep their sights on two targets, "inspirational" teacher movies like "Dangerous Minds" and "Mr. Holland's Opus" and the current crop of musical offerings led by "High School Musical."
I've got to wrap this up quick because I have to labor on Labor Day, but here's the bottom line: If you can get past Steve Coogan's overbearing performance and stick with "Hamlet 2" until the finish, you'll find an offbeat kind of comedy that's never quite as crude as you might be expecting but ultimately almost as satisfying as I had hoped.