DIRECTOR: Nicholas Stoller | CAST: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Rose Byrne, Sean Combs |RATING: 4/5
Aaron Green (Hill), a record company intern is charged with the task of accompanying his idol, out-of-control British rock star Aldous Snow (Brand) from London to a tenth anniversary concert at L.A.’s Greek Theater. The event could save Snow’s nose-diving fortunes and it could establish Green’s career. However, getting the wily, sex-addicted, substance-abusing rocker to stick to any kind of schedule will take all of Green’s patience and ingenuity.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK is the latest feature from comedy producer extraordinaire Judd Apatow. The movie is an offshoot, but not a sequel to 2008’s FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL. It takes the character of British rocker Aldous Snow (Brand) and puts him centre stage in a rollicking buddy/road movie with Apatow comedian-of-the-moment Jonah Hill.
The Snow character, who was an unexpected highlight of SARAH MARSHALL, is constantly in motion, filled with the idea of the moment and in search of any drug he can lay his hands on. He is essentially a powerful child who has to be looked after and pandered to by the younger Green whose lack of job and life experience means he is in way above his head. However Green has great tenacity and genuinely wants to see his childhood hero resurrect his career with the Greek Theater concert.
Is Aaron Green merely Aldous Snow’s minder or is he the man who will put him back on top? Is Snow his mentor or is he just using this ‘affable twit’ from the record company?
GET HIM TO THE GREEK cleverly plays every variant of this relationship while simultaneously taking pot shots at celebrity culture and the entertainment media. There are amusing cameos (Lars Ulrich take a bow) and a barrage of pop culture icons are name-checked in the rapid-fire dialogue between the leads and the supporting characters.
The film successfully revamps the Apatow formula of foul-mouthed male comedy with a heart. It delves into anal humour while at the same time making points about relationships. It has fun with drugged-out excess while saying that Snow has destroyed his career with this kind of self-indulgence. As in all of the better Apatow films, you can have your cake and eat it.
If like me, you were less-than-impressed by Brand’s television stand up in PONDERLAND, then you may be put off from seeing him on the big screen, but as my movie-buddy pointed out, he is a lot funnier playing a scripted version of himself. Brand is in fine form here. Writer/Director Nicholas Stoller is intelligent about how he uses his non-acting leading man and does a similarly good job of directing P-Diddy in the role of alpha–dog record company boss Sergio.
Jonah Hill has been labelled by some reviewers as a kind of Seth Rogen lite. This underestimates his considerable acting skill and comedic timing. Time will tell what kind of range Hill has or if he will always play a variant of the same role, however he knows how to inhabit a character and not just go for the gag. MAD MEN’s Elisabeth Moss has a small but memorable role as Green’s girlfriend, a hard-working doctor who desperately needs sleep. Australian Rose Byrne acquits herself well in the role of Jacqui Q the model/singer of questionable taste and talent.
While watching the movie I was constantly reminded of the 1982 comedy MY FAVORITE YEAR directed by Richard Benjamin. Cue IMDb synopsis: “It’s 1950’s New York and the age of live television. Benjy Stone is a young writer on a major comedy-variety show. He is assigned to chaperone that week’s guest Alan Swann, a faded (British) movie star and renowned womanizer and drinker. Benjy’s job is to keep Swann sober and above all, make sure he shows up for the live broadcast on Saturday evening.” Is there a long drawn-out Hollywood lawsuit in the offing? Let’s wait and see. Why not check out both films and improve your pop cultural cred?
GET HIM TO THE GREEK is slick, middlebrow entertainment that manages to keep the laughs flowing for its entire length.