June 3, 2010
Get Him to the Greek (R)
Russell Brand reprises his small but memorable role as obnoxious British rocker Aldous Snow from Forgetting Sarah Marshall in Get Him to the Greek, a not terribly strong but still rather enjoyable comedy.
Judd Apatow has a producer credit, naturally, so while this is not the man himself this comedy is of the Apatow universe — the one that includes Jason Segel (who wrote the character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Jonah Hill and plenty of pot references.
Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is the requisite regular shmoe guy upon whom this crazy story unfolds. He has turned his love of music into a career as worker drone at a record company. He has a nice girlfriend, overworked doctor-in-training Daphne (Elisabeth Moss), and probably slightly more of a handle on the adult world than your standard Apatow male.
His boss Sergio (Sean Combs, Mr. Diddy himself) demands that the cubicle-dwelling hipsters come up with ideas to help energize sluggish record sales. Aaron suggests reviving the career of Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), a one-time hugely famous rocker with the band Infant Sorrow whose star has faded since putting out a pompous, moronic and somewhat racist album called African Child. (The delightfully ridiculous video for the song “African Child” features Aldous dressed like what he calls an African Christ from space dancing in front of a war zone with his scantily clad girlfriend Jackie Q, played by Rose Byrne.) Now estranged from the Lady Gaga-ish Jackie Q and spending most of his days getting wasted in his London flat, Aldous allegedly agrees to travel to L.A. to repeat a legendary performance at the Greek Theatre on the 10-year anniversary. But when Aaron, psyched about this chance to work with a hero and to prove his worth to Sergio, arrives in London to escort Aldous to Los Angeles, the rocker seems determined to thwart his every attempt to get him to the Greek.
Most of this thwarting involves getting Aaron horribly drunk — I’ve probably seen all the shots of Jonah Hill puking that I need to see in my life. There’s a party in London — drink, girls, bathroom sex, puke. There’s drinking, inhaling and puking in New York. There’s a party in Las Vegas — drink, girl, smoke, freak-out and I forget if there was some puking or not in there but probably. Certainly Hill made the most of his exceptional ability to look queasy and freaked out and at least looked like he was about to hurl even if he didn’t.
Get Him to the Greek feels less like a cohesive story and more like a collection of scenes on a theme. There were several times when I found myself laughing at a scene without really understanding how it fit into the overall story. Some of the bits work — the self-conscious preposterousness of Aldous’s rockstar persona, the shallowness of Jackie Q, the fidgetiness of Aaron. Some of the bits go on too long — Colm Meaney shows up as Aldous’s horrible father and hangs around too long, mostly so we can get a scene where the dialogue is almost entirely about penises. (Though, why single out that one scene — when this movie isn’t about penises, it’s about bums, the whole beans-and-franks system, the girl equivalent of same or the inappropriate placement of an item in or near one of the above-mentioned locations. The references to drugs are almost kind of refreshing.)
And yet — or maybe not “yet,” maybe “and so” — I found myself sort of liking this movie. I say “sort of” because I don’t know if I liked this movie as much as I liked the movie’s sensibility, its wacky little potty-mouthed outlook. I liked the characters — maybe especially Daphne, who gets to be more of a real person than many of the girlfriend-types do in movies like this. But all of them are endearing in a messed up way. (Side note: I find it ridiculously hard to talk about this movie in safe-for-work terms. If your life requires you to keep it PG most of the time, Get Him to the Greek and discussion of same is your safe place to use words that even South Park bleeps.)
This movie seems less about the story than it is about letting its characters be their crazy, freaky selves. It makes for an uneven in-theater movie going experience but something tells me that when viewed at home where there’s less pressure for that one thing to fill all of your attention, this movie will improve —much in the way that I like Superbad a little more every time I see it. Not that you shouldn’t see it in the theater — if a movie full of things I can’t describe here does it for you, this movie will entertain. Bring your friends. Bring, er, other things. Have a good, very R-rated time. B-
Rated R for strong sexual content and drug use throughout, and pervasive language. Written and directed by Nicholas Stoller, Get Him To the Greek is an hour and 47 minutes long and opens on Friday, June 4. It is distributed by Universal Pictures.