The creative team behind Focus Features’ upcoming “Hamlet 2” didn’t set out to make a musical. But according to writer-director-exec producer Andrew Fleming, it’s the music that makes the film’s oft-offensive humor palatable.
“It kind of became a musical,” Fleming says. “Putting it to music gave the film this jaunty aspect — the light and dark.”
Pam Brady, who co-wrote the screenplay with Fleming, says the music was one of the last aspects of the script to come together. The pair even wrote the final song, “Gay as the Day Is Long,” on a napkin and texted the lyrics to composer Ralph Sall.
Along with “Gay,” the pair also scripted “Raped in the Face” and the ultra-hyped “Rock Me Sexy Jesus,” the centerpiece of the film’s trailer that is approaching a half million results on Google. The showstopper — also the subject of a user-generated viral campaign on Hamlet2.com in which contestants are invited to create their own version of the song — attempts to deconstruct prevailing images of the holy figure, Brady says. “Jesus has always been portrayed as really sexy, and we all kind of go along with it.”
“Hamlet 2” tells the story of failed actor Dana Marschz, played by Brit funnyman Steve Coogan. As a last-ditch effort to salvage some semblance of a career, Marschz resorts to teaching high-school drama. When the school’s theater department, along with his teaching position, goes under the knife, Marschz cooks up a controversial musical in an attempt to save the program.
Fleming and Brady agree that despite the film’s wildly un-p.c. nature, the results come off as tame, at least for them. The music, they say, only lightens the blow. “I don’t think that many people have been offended,” Fleming says. “We’re just trying to make people smile and think.
“There’s nothing like putting on a show.”