Get Him to the Greek
2010, R, 108 min. Directed by Nicholas Stoller. Starring Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Sean Combs, Elisabeth Moss, Rose Byrne, Colm Meaney.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., June 4, 2010
Director Stoller and producer Judd Apatow of the 2008 Jason Segel-penned comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall have taken that film’s breakout character Aldous Snow, a debauched rock & roll travesty, and spun him into the star of his own movie, Get Him to the Greek. For his travel companion in this wacky road movie, Snow (played then and now by the irrepressible Brand) has Aaron Green (Hill, who played a completely different character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), a quick-witted junior A&R type working for Pinnacle Records, which is headed by Sergio Roma (Combs). Clean and sober for seven years, Snow fell colassally off the wagon after the disaster of his last video, “African Child” (which the public and press concurred was the “worst thing to happen to Africa since apartheid”), and the subsequent departure of his longtime girlfriend Jackie Q (Byrne). The opening portion of the film is devoted to the filming of the video and the international response to the song, and this segment is the funniest sustained stretch of the movie. The rest of Get Him to the Greek is episodic and spasmodically funny: Good jokes and gags perk up otherwise rambling and sometimes misbegotten sequences. The film feels like a collection of sketches instead of a mad, three-day, drug-and-sex-infused whirl from which Green has been deputized by Roma to fetch Snow in London, fly him to New York to tape The Today Show, and then on to Los Angeles for a commemorative performance at the famous Greek Theatre. Hill and Brand have good chemistry as a mismatched couple: Brand, lithe and bobbing, forever erratic, and Hill, stout and stolid, smart enough to keep up with Brand yet wise enough to let the character keep some emotional distance from his idol. A side trip to Las Vegas to drop in on Snow’s dad (Meaney) and an aborted sexual three-way slow the proceedings down for meager payoffs, and the rampant sexism and third-act moralizing about the value of monogamy and sobriety may prove to be turnoffs to other viewers. Surprisingly, the women – Mad Men’s Moss as Green’s girlfriend and Byrne as Jackie Q – deliver rich, sympathetic performances. Scads of cameo appearances dot the screen from Pink and Mario López to Today Show host Meredith Vieira (Matt Lauer performed similar duties on Land of the Lost, another Universal Pictures tie-in with its NBC corporate sister), but strangest of all is Today Show green-room guest Paul Krugman. Released on the same post-Memorial Day weekend as The Hangover, last summer’s (non-Apatow-affiliated) smash comedy, Get Him to the Greek is clearly betting on a similar box-office bacchanal.