1 July 2010

Movie Review: Get Him to the Greek


Get Him to the Greek
2010, 109mins, 15
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Writer: Nicholas Stoller
Cast includes: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Sean Combs, Colm Meaney, Rose Byrne
UK Release Date: 25th June 2010

“Get Him to the Greek” is a semi-sequel to the 2008 hit “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. However instead of taking up with the main characters from that picture, “Get Him to the Greek” chooses to focus on the supporting figure who stole that respective show; the fictional rock star Aldous Snow, portrayed perfectly by British comedian Russell Brand. The film reunites Brand with director Nicholas Stoller (who was also behind the camera on “Sarah Marshall”) and Jonah Hill (albeit playing a different character than he did in the 2008 film), but the results aren’t perhaps as glorious as audiences might expect. “Get Him to the Greek” is proficiently executed and has several great laughs under the bonnet, but I can’t recall a more uneven studio comedy in recent memory. The film deserves some kudos for attempting to attack the material with intelligence and humanity, but frankly there’s simply too much going on here for the productions own good.

Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is a mild mannered intern working at a record company, one which is currently starved for ideas. Whilst boss Sergio (Sean Combs) is searching for creative ways to increase revenue, Aaron comes up with one involving Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), a washed up drug addict whose last album was a total bomb. Snow performed a legendary gig at the Greek theatre in L.A ten years ago, Aaron suggesting an anniversary performance is just what the company and Snow himself needs. Sergio dispatches Aaron to collect Aldous in London and escort him to the Greek within 72 hours, but with the rock star’s relentless partying, rampant drug addiction and emotional remorse concerning his break-up with pop star Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), it’s going to be a long trip.

Both Russell Brand and Jonah Hill are effective, especially as a double act. It’s a fairly classical odd couple pairing; Brand is uncut and manic, Hill more restrained and nebbish. Due to the scenes of drunken debauchery both actors get moments of comedic madness; but as a general rule Brand leads in the craziness department. This time Aldous Snow is a much darker character, Stoller’s script playing up the emotional deficiencies that plague Snow’s narcotic drenched existence. I appreciated this on occasion (an angry outburst in a hotel suite showcases both Brand as an actor and Stoller as a writer favourably) but it’s with this frantic character that “Get Him to the Greek” overexerts itself. Plot strands involving Snow’s father (played gamely by Colm Meaney), his ex-girlfriend and even at a point his mother just aren’t all necessary, especially since they meld together to labour a fairly obvious point. Apparently money, booze, casual sex and drugs aren’t enough to stop a person from living a hollow and lonely existence; “Get Him to the Greek” using far too much screen time to convey such a two dimensional message.

The jokes are generally at least giggle worthy, and the movie boasts a few raucous set-pieces and moments of directorial intuition. Some of the substance induced hazes the leading duo endures are energetically and cleverly captured by Stoller, who at least tacks on a cute visual style to the movie. The editing seems at times to be a little sloppy, but the soundtrack choices are a blast, which ultimately allow “Get Him to the Greek” an agreeable passing mark from a technical perspective. In terms of storytelling the picture isn’t as assured; bungling far too much into what is essentially a slight road trip framework. A subplot involving Hill’s disenchanted girlfriend (an uninspired Elizabeth Moss) feels undercooked and unrewarding, yet Stoller infuses the film with intermittent and unpredictable moments of reflection upon this narrative strand. Similarly the same could be said for various portions of Brand’s character arc (the aforementioned relationship with his Dad comes out of the blue somewhat) and it’s these things which render “Get Him to the Greek” modestly enjoyable rather than a coked up comedy classic. Had Stoller been willing ply a firmer focus and make a greater point with these overstretched supporting relationships then maybe the picture would flow both at a finer pace and with more tonal consistency. After all for two thirds “Get Him to the Greek” is an outright farce, then almost instantly and with little obvious signal, it snaps into a darker and moodier piece insistent upon reflecting on the hedonistic emptiness of a musicians lifestyle. It’s strange, and from an entertainment standpoint kind of unwarranted.

“Get Him to the Greek” provides some brutally amusing satire, not least its laugh filled and cameo stacked opening selection of scenes. It also has some wonderful supporting turns, namely those given by Rose Byrne and Sean Combs (aka P.Diddy). Byrne channels a terrific amount of laughter through her depiction of a slutty English pop star, and Combs pretty much nabs the show as Hill’s crazed boss Sergio. Combs brings an unstoppable anger, a surprisingly astute comic timing and a thirst for weirdness to the role, lighting up any scenes he’s in. It’s a pleasant surprise in a film a little light on them.

I should highlight that in a goofy and disposable way I did like “Get Him to the Greek”. It made me laugh more than most modern comedies and some of the acting and satirical barbs are spot on, it’s just that the overstuffed and unbalanced script is a bit of a shocker. The picture jumps from idea to idea with a little too much reckless abandon, leaving too many of its aims vaguely unfulfilled. It’s probably worth a rental on DVD, and Russell Brand fans will enjoy seeing their hero elevated to leading man status and coping with it admirably, but overall I wouldn’t recommend darting out to catch this one. It’s perfectly adequate, but in truth I was hoping for something a little more than that.

A review by Daniel Kelly, 2010


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