I have qualms about reviewing IndieFest-featured “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Undead,” because I feel like by doing so I am validating it as a real film, which it is not. To be fair, it’s clear from the opening credits (which proclaim: “Since the 1600s, there have been many vampire adaptations of Hamlet … this is one of them”) that no one involved in this movie took it seriously. R&G is supposed to be campy and ridiculous, and at first I was more or less entertained. It was like watching an amusingly bizarre SNL skit. However, after fifteen minutes had passed I stopped laughing AT the movie, much less with it.
I guess I should attempt to outline the plot. Julian (Jake Hoffmann) is an unemployed dude who lives in his father’s doctor’s office and attempts to get over his ex-girlfriend, Anna (Devon Aoki) by having sex with the constant stream of super hot babes parading in and out of his room. Trust me, I’m down with scruffy hipster Jews, but there’s no way any of these chicks would want to hang out with the apathetic (and very poorly acted) Julian (unless they knew he was really Dustin Hoffman’s son). Julian’s dad gives him an ultimatum: take a job directing a bizarre adaptation of Hamlet, or get kicked out of the office.
Julian does as he is told, and ends up casting his best friend, Vince, (Kris Lemche) as Hamlet and Anna as Ophelia. Now I’m going to copy/paste from the R&G website because by attempting to explain the rest of the plot I am wasting my time and yours: “Julian finds himself in the middle of a two thousand year old conspiracy that explains the connection between Shakespeare, the Holy Grail and some seriously sexy vampires. It turns out that the play was actually written by a master vampire named Theo Horace (John Ventimiglia) and it’s up to Julian to recover the Grail in order to reverse the vampire’s curse… If only being undead wasn’t so much God-damned fun!”
So, there you have it. If only the movie stuck to that plot. IF ONLY. There’s also an annoyingly wacky female detective, Anna’s annoyingly sleazy/stupid mogul boyfriend, and a really, REALLY insufferable Hamlet (not Vince; he gets killed early on because he figures out that the cast is comprised of vampires. This guy is the “real” Hamlet that eventually comes to save the day. Honestly, just don’t ask) that I can only assume was told to act like a schizophrenic.
In summary: I don’t understand why these people spent years of their lives writing, filming, and selling this movie. What does Dustin think about all of this? Apparently Tom Stoppard encouraged director Jordan Galland to make this movie (which, if you didn’t know, is based on his original play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Get it???) Stoppard must have meant it sarcastically, or maybe he’s just bored. I don’t know. I don’t recommend seeing this movie under any circumstances.
Some pros (because I’ve never written such a scathing review): Sean Lennon’s score is nice to listen to. Ventimiglia has the time of his life hamming his character up and is really fun to watch. If you are into boobs, there are a lot of them.