Get Him to the Greek (2010)

20 Jul

Film Title: Get Him to the Greek

Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

The formula for the comedies that come off the Judd Apatow assembly line seems to be that the characters and their situations must be as vulgar and crude as possible, but also must have vulnerable, quiet moments that show they are not so vulgar and crude; they’re just misunderstood and confused. This is something that quite a few comedies nowadays seem to forget, as Apatow’s R-rated comedies influence many other R-rated comedies that focus more on everything else except for appeal. I always have high expectations when I come see an Apatow production, whether or writes/directs or simply produces it, because you can see hints of his insight among the writer’s and director’s vision(s). I can expect hilarity and even some convincing drama.

“Get Him to the Greek,” written and directed by Nicholas Stoller (who also directed the 2008 Apatow-produced comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), is one that I personally find to be one of the least of the bunch. That’s not to say it’s not good. On the contrary. It’s just that some parts don’t mesh well with others, which leads to a few distracting qualities about it. But it’s not so much that I can’t laugh at it or like most of the antics involved, and it is an enjoyable watch.

“Get Him to the Greek” is a follow-up to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” in that it makes a major role out of the scene-stealer from that movie—the eccentric British rock legend Aldous Snow, played very memorably by Russell Brand. Aldous Snow was a weirdo, despite NOT being stoned or drunk at all in that movie (he had a tattoo that declared him “seven years sober”), and he managed to provide us with a lot of very amusing bits, with his personality, his thick British accent, and the double-entendres of his song lyrics. But if you ever wondered who Aldous Snow was as a person, “Get Him to the Greek” brings the character back and adds more to it to make him three-dimensional. Did Aldous Snow need further characterization? Well, we thought we knew all about him in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” but then again, how much can you know about a supporting character? So not only can the guy make us laugh, but he can also tell us more about him.

Russell Brand reprises his role from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” for “Get Him to the Greek,” and yet his co-star Jonah Hill, who played a waiter/stalker who admired Aldous Snow, does not. He’s a different character than the one he played in the previous movie. Here, he’s Aaron Green, a recording company suit. He has been sent by his boss, Sergio Roma (Sean Combs, a.k.a. P. Diddy) to bring Snow from London to Los Angeles, so he can perform a concert at the Greek Theater for a full comeback after not only a terrible previous album, called “African Child,” but also succumbing to substance and alcohol and, as we will learn, a couple resentments and heartbreaks. When Aaron travels with him, he finds that Snow is quite difficult to handle, as all he wants to do is party, do drugs, and drink, rather than think about performing and continue traveling. Aaron tries to get the upper hand and bring Snow down to earth so they can continue on the journey, but he’s pretty much spineless and has trouble speaking out.

But along the journey, Aaron and Snow form an unlikely bond, mainly because Snow has no one else to accept him and Aaron sees how much of a mess this guy is. And we do too. We come to like Snow because we can see his development as a character. In “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” he was a caricature more than anything else. But here, he’s a three-dimensional individual with moments of vulnerability underneath his partying persona. He’s a self-destructive time-bomb who may go off at any moment, pretty much because he has no one to connect with. He takes drugs and drinks a lot because everyone in his life has broken his heart—British pop singer Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), who was the love of his life, and even Snow’s father (Colm Meaney), who has only used Snow for his fame and fortune.

These heavier dramatic moments in “Get Him to the Greek” balance with the comedic moments, which serve as relief with belly laughs (most of which comes from dialogue that comes so fast that you’ll wish you had a tape recorder). While I admit that the poignancy of the scenes that have to do with Snow’s life are effective in presenting some legitimate human drama into the mix, sometimes I feel it doesn’t really work because it seems as if some of these issues don’t really belong in the same movie that features outrageously funny moments such as when Aaron gets the upper hand by stuffing a bag of heroin into his behind so Snow can’t use it (and Snow has to use force to retrieve it). And I’m not entirely sure I liked the payoff involving Jackie Q. It’s played realistically, but I can’t help but feel that it was missing something a little more significant.

But on the other hand, “Get Him to the Greek” doesn’t forget that it’s a comedy and continues with more energy with a race to catch the Today Show (with Aaron stoned out of his mind and rushing to give Snow lyrics for a song he must perform), a drug-induced sequence to the tune of Dexy’s Midnight Runners’ “Come On Eileen,” and an uncomfortable, forced threesome with Aaron, Snow, and Aaron’s girlfriend Daphne (Elisabeth Moss), just to name a few.

Russell Brand does a nice job bringing Aldous Snow to life and Jonah Hill brings a certain likability that he can be known for when he isn’t loud and obnoxious. But the biggest surprise in the acting department comes from Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, who is hilarious and provides some of the film’s funniest lines and moments. (One has to wonder when we’ll see a full movie about this guy, just as this one stars a character from a different movie.)

One other thing I want to mention is the soundtrack, particularly the songs by Aldous Snow and Jackie Q, designed specifically for the movie. Among Snow’s vulgar lyrics for something like the admittedly-catchy “The Clap,” we also have glimpses of Jackie Q’s music videos, including the string-quartet-mixed-with-techno-beat “Supertight” and the unbelievably ill-mannered “Ring ‘Round my Posey.” (Rose Byrne is particularly hilarious and you can tell she has game, doing this.)

Much like an Apatow comedy, “Get Him to the Greek” allows us to laugh and also to care. It may not be as effective when compared to the likes of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” but it works mainly because you can still feel what was accomplished more than what has been attempted.

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