Get Him To The Greek review
|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
Forget Sarah Marshall. Russell Brand's return as a near-insane rock star heralds a comedy with a difference...
Something strange occurred to me while I was watching Get Him to the Greek, Universal Pictures’ revisiting of Russell Brand’s wildly manic character Aldous Snow from 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I realized that it had a point. In between songs about sexually transmitted diseases and scenes involving Jonah Hill’s poor Aaron Green hiding drugs up his posterior and being attacked by a chillingly-large sex toy, Get Him to the Greek manages to insert a pleasantly profound message about the excesses of fame and how the realities of the music business can be far less fun than they appear to outsiders.
Get Him to the Greek opens with a flashback of Brand as Snow hatching his most ambitious musical plan yet, a single called ‘African Child’ that he contends will make him a ‘musical Jesus’. Instead, it flops miserably and Snow is widely scorned in the industry, many fans and critics proclaiming ‘African Child’ as one of the worst songs of all time. The resulting fallout sees his longtime girlfriend and mother of his child, fellow shock-rock star Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), leaving him while sober Snow relapses on drugs and alcohol. Fast forward to the present: Snow is a coked-out mess and hasn’t had a hit in years.
Jonah Hill plays Aaron Green, an intern at slowly-disintegrating Pinnacle Records and boyfriend of hospital intern Daphne (Elisabeth Moss). Aaron and Daphne share an apartment but rarely see each other, as Daphne is criminally overworked and half-asleep in most scenes. Depressed by his lack of time with his girlfriend, Aaron’s days don’t improve much at work, as the Pinnacle Records staff is constantly harangued by irritable company head Sergio Roma (a surprisingly-hilarious Sean “P-Diddy” Combs).
Desperate for original ideas and revenue, Sergio shockingly agrees to Green’s brainstorm – convincing Snow into playing a gig at Los Angeles’ Greek Theater on the tenth anniversary of the show that catapulted him into mainstream success. The only caveat is that Green himself will need to fly to London, retrieve an erratic Snow, and escort him back to L.A. in time for the gig. As Green breaks the exciting news to Daphne, she reveals news of her own - she has been offered a doctor position at a hospital in Seattle, which would finally give the two of them more time together but obviously force a move to the faraway city. An argument erupts and Green leaves for London, assuming the two have split.
"Get Him to the Greek largely avoids the oft-repeated juvenile comedy pattern of 80 minutes of bizarre antics finished by a sloppy 10 minutes of feeble plot completion"
A huge fan of Snow, Green assumes that simply escorting Snow to Los Angeles will be easy but soon realizes that it will be anything but. Snow is dismissive of Green from the outset, accusing him of moving up the show’s date just to annoy him and refusing to perform. Desperately kowtowing to the star, Green manages to convince Snow to accompany him, but out in public the rock star is even more difficult to control. Constantly ignoring deadlines in favor of drunken partying, Snow leaves Green torn between wanting to emulate his hero and fulfilling his duties of getting him to the Greek as promised.
Remarkably-insane scenes soon follow, including Green having drunken sex with a random pub girl, Snow forcing a distressed Green to insert a small bag of cocaine ‘where the sun doesn’t shine’ at airport security, Green being attacked by an overly-amorous Snow groupie, and a side trip to Vegas that ends in a confrontation with Snow’s failure of a father, a hotel suite on fire, a surprise visit by Sergio, and Snow’s infamous introduction of his drug concoction ‘the Geoffrey’ to an overmatched Green. As expected, all works out in the end, both with Green’s mission with Snow and Green’s relationship with Daphne, but not in the way one might expect.
Thankfully, something pleasant happens in between scenes of incredible over-excess and Green’s hilariously-desperate efforts to fulfill his duties. Aldous Snow becomes something more than a caricature of a rock star cliché. He becomes a person, with real motivations and real personal issues. Get Him to the Greek largely avoids the oft-repeated juvenile comedy pattern of 80 minutes of bizarre antics finished by a sloppy 10 minutes of feeble plot completion. Rather, Snow is wisely portrayed as a fairly-normal person beneath the Hollywood veneer – a man who misses his ex-girlfriend, who is hurt by negative reviews, and who uses drugs to stamp down unhappiness. A surprise revelation by his ex Jackie Q regarding their son only further continues Snow’s downward spiral. Watching Green alternately revere and despise his hero is funny while it lasts, but when Green realizes that the level of unhappiness that Snow lives with, he (and the audience) finally begins to see Aldous as a person and not just a manufactured icon.
Brand once again effortlessly plays Aldous Snow with unrestrained glee while Jonah Hill is hilarious as a perpetually-nervous, in-over-his-head tagalong. In the biggest surprise, Combs nearly steals the show, a manic tornado of new age thinking and corporate greed. Moss is perhaps the saving grace of the movie, whose girlfriend Daphne nearly swings into ‘miserable shrew’ territory early on, but instead eventually plays as a sympathetic character. Musical selections from Brand’s fictional band Infant Sorrow are sprinkled throughout. My personal favorite is ‘The Clap’, the catchiest song about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases you may ever hear. As you might guess, if inappropriate humor, Hill’s panicked line delivery, and Brand’s swagger isn’t your thing, Get Him to the Greek isn’t your bag. Otherwise, you may just love it. I did.
Get Him to the Greek opened June 4 in the United States and will premiere in UK theaters on June 25. It is rated R for language, brief strong sexual content, and rampant drug use.
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