GET HIM TO THE GREEK (2010)
Starring Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Elisabeth Moss, Rose Byrne, Sean Combs, Colm Meaney, Dinah Stabb, Lars Ulrich, Nick Kroll, DeRay Davis, Jim Piddock, T.J. Miller, Aziz Ansari, Meredith Vieira, Stephanie Faracy, Kristen Schaal, Tom Felton, Kali Hawk, Sterling Cooper, Kristen Bell, Rick Schroeder, Mario Lopez, Pink, Kurt Loder, Christina Aguilera, Pharrell, Paul Krugman, Roger Manning Jr. and Dee Snider.
Screenplay by Nicholas Stoller.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 109 minutes. Rated R.
Get Him to the Greek is not so much a sequel to the terrific romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall from a couple of years ago so much as it is a spin-off.
Arguably the most interesting character in that film was the just slightly addled rock star Aldous Snow, played with verve and charm by British comedian Russell Brand. Snow was having an affair with the title character of the film, all the while trying desperately to cling to his sobriety.
It was a great, funny character – but when I first heard of this film built around Aldous, I wondered if the guy could carry a whole film himself or whether he worked best as supporting comic relief.
The pleasant surprise is that Greek is just as good – if not even better – than Sarah Marshall.
In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the funniest film of the summer – the surprise break-out like The Hangover was last summer. It’s not a perfect film – in fact it is often lowbrow – but it’s a damned funny one and surprisingly heartfelt at the same time.
Get Him to the Greek makes no claims towards artistic deepness, but it is the state of the art in slightly rude guy humor.
If those hallmarks sound like the Judd Apatow film factory, it is no real surprise that this film (and Sarah Marshall) were produced by Apatow and created by his protégées. Forgetting Sarah Marshall writer/star Jason Segel is also on board as a producer here and that film’s director Nicholas Stoller wrote and directed this new chapter in the story.
Even Jonah Hill is back. He had a supporting role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall as a waiter who idolizes Aldous Snow. This time around he is playing a totally different character (no mention of the original character is made here) and yet in certain ways he is similar.
Hill plays Aaron Green, a low-level exec at Pinnacle Records who convinces his bosses that a tenth anniversary show for a legendary concert at LA’s Greek Theater by his hero – Infant Sorrow leader Aldous Snow – will not only make the label a mint, but will also revive the rock star’s reputation after a disastrous “message” album called African Child. (The film has lots of fun with the reviews of the record, calling it “the worst thing to happen to Africa since Apartheid.”)
Since the show was his idea, the label sends him off to London to collect the wildly off-the-wagon rock star, take him to New York to be on The Today Show and then to LA for the show. This is easier said than done, because the rocker has been coddled for so many years that he has little interest in anything but the next party, dragging Aaron deeper and deeper into the drugs, sex and the hedonistic lifestyle of a rock star. Aaron is constantly trying to corral his traveling companion, who really has no great interest in whether or not they arrive at the destinations they are expected.
Hill, who in past roles in stuff like Superbad and Night at the Museum 2 has tended to play things very broadly, here is a team player and smartly underplays most of his role. He understands he is the straight man here and his character is all the more hysterical for his desperate attempts to keep order in the chaos that surrounds Snow at every turn.
Interestingly, the filmmakers realized that if they made Aldous the main character, they would need a supporting role to come out, steal a bunch of laughs and then fade away again.
For that role, they picked rapper/music mogul Sean (P. Diddy) Combs.
I know, I know, I don’t think of Diddy when I think of comedy, but the guy hits it out of the park. His role as Pinnacle Records head Sergio Roma is inspired. Granted, it’s not a huge stretch for him, but the guy is flat-out hysterical.
In fact, flat-out hysterical describes most of this film. At the same time, though, there is a good amount of truly touching scenes between Aaron and his girlfriend (Elizabeth Moss of Mad Men), Aldous and his pop-star ex-wife (Rose Byrne of Knowing) and the two guys themselves, who reach an uneasy truce and friendship.
Get Him to the Greek isn’t going to get noticed in awards season, but there is a real skill to putting together a truly funny, clever, heartfelt comedy – and on that level Get Him to the Greek is a rousing success.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 28, 2010.