A key indicator as to whether or not you will be at all interested in this movie is whether or not you liked Russell Brand playing this character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. If you didn’t see that film, Brand plays Aldous Snow, extreme-id-surfing rock and roller party boy sex machine. There he played an abrasive but still cool thorn in the side of the lead, Jason Segal. Here, Brand is the lead. For me, that is why I saw this movie. Brand is fearlessly vulgar, arrogant, funny, vulnerable, and brash. If you don’t like him, stay away because this is a huge love letter to Brand and Snow.
Snow is being herded from London to New York to Los Angeles by music industry flunky Aaron, played against type by Jonah Hill. Aaron is a sweet, low-status fan of Snow (and no relation to the small part he played as Matthew the fanboy waiter in Forgetting Sarah Marshall) who gets to watch his idol tumble from his pedestal in the process. Hill has to wildly compromise and pollute himself just to survive the ordeal of ferrying his narcissistic and charismatic charge to the Greek Theatre for a career-rebooting concert.
Plotwise, this is a straight-up 1980’s goal-achieve goal-achieve buddy road comedy, but with up to the moment information age trappings and gross-out humor. There’s plenty of puke, profanity and — er, pretty girls — but the real story, the real character stuff, comes kind of weirdly crammed in at the end. The movie thinks it’s doing it the whole time, but it’s not.
Like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, this film is directed by Nicholas Stoller. Like Yes Man, it’s written by him. And herein may lie the problem. Get Him To The Greek suffers from a lack of pace and focus, despite great ideas and a great cast. Are we here to see Aaron grow a spine and fix up his sagging hero? Is meeting your idol always this bad? Is love more important than your dreams? Sure, this is just a bawdy buddy comedy, but Greek seems to want to aspire to the same enlightenment subtext that Forgetting successfully (and Yes Man unsuccessfully) delivered. More similarly to Stoller’s writing credit, our heroes glide through some stuff that’s pretty chuckle-worthy and then they just magically come out shiny. As the action builds, the pace and energy get weirder and weirder, like watching a well-known movie with the wrong score.
It’s fun to watch these two actors, who have a great yin and yang chemistry despite Hill being so far outside type. With Hill in the role, we’re waiting for the seemingly inevitable Jack Black explosion of Here’s The Real Me, Y’all! Instead, we have Hill playing Michael Cera. I applaud someone stretching but the guy’s strengths are not meekness and self-effacing bewilderment. Brand is a born rock star, his rangy, heroin-chic looks and shaggy vibe go well with his decent singing voice, overt sexuality, and actual brains. Sean Combs (P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, whatever) plays Aaron’s boss with a facile naturalness, but doesn’t scream “I should be in movies more.” Rose Byrne knocks it out of the park as Snow’s pop princess girlfriend, and Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss is Aaron’s sweet slice of normalcy. The side characters are just that — sides. After all the bare boobs and vomiting and furry walls and angry phone calls, this movie boils down to whether we care about the rocker and his handler. The rocker: yes, maybe surprisingly so. The handler: it feels like something important was left out of his character to make this movie sing over its tempo problems. See Get Him To The Greek for Brand, but save for your pennies for the sweet soundtrack CD.
MPAA Rating R- pervasive language, sexuality, drug use, comic violence, nudity
Release date 6/4/10
Time in minutes
Director Nicholas Stoller
Studio Universal Pictures