Combustible Celluloid
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With: Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Elisabeth Moss, Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs, Rose Byrne, Colm Meaney, Dinah Stabb
Written by: Nicholas Stoller, based on characters created by Jason Segel
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content and drug use throughout, and pervasive language
Running Time: 109
Date: 06/03/2010

Get Him to the Greek (2010)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Snow Drift

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Some movie executive somewhere -- maybe it was Judd Apatow himself -- apparently watched Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) and decided that one of the supporting characters, rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), was deserving of his own movie. What's more, an even smaller character, a waiter (Jonah Hill), would be his new co-star, based on the chemistry they shared in some of their few, funny scenes together. Or perhaps it was Hill and Brand who had so much fun working together that they cooked up the pitch for this movie. And it is kind of an interesting idea: it's more like a spin-off than a sequel.

However, in making Get Him to the Greek the filmmakers, including Nicholas Stoller, who directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, seem to have forgotten what made the former film work; namely the sweet, funny, romantic triangle at its center. Get Him to the Greek is merely a fast-paced series of booze, drug, sex and party jokes. One character is uptight and frets all the time, while the other is carefree and life loving. The movie moves fast enough that this might have been enough, but as it passes the 90-minute mark, it slows down for some character development. The uptight guy must learn to loosen up, and the life-lover must learn that there's more to life than partying. It's essentially another of Apatow's "bromances," with two girlfriends (Rose Byrne and Elisabeth Moss) thrown in to slow things down even more.

Since Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Aldous Snow's career has been on the decline. He made a self-indulgent album called African Child that received some very harsh reviews. One critic said it was the worst thing to happen to Africa since apartheid. He has spent his time drinking and on drugs, and reeling from his breakup with his longtime love Jackie Q (Byrne). Meanwhile, Aaron Green works for a record company, under the tyrannical Sergio Roma (Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs), and suggests an Aldous Snow "comeback" concert. Sergio likes the idea and assigns Aaron to retrieve Aldous from London, take him to New York for an appearance on the "Today Show," and then to Los Angeles for the concert at the Greek Theatre.

Of course, Aldous is a rock star, and it's not easy for a schlubby office worker to boss him around. This leads to several crazy sequences and plenty of hilarious, scattershot jokes. Most of the jokes seem off-the-cuff, and since they don't particularly grow out of the material, they will be easily forgotten in the rush of things. There's a quick line about a "Kubrickian" hallway in a hotel, and I liked the bit about a homemade concoction of drugs called a "Jeffrey," because, "who'd be afraid of something called a Jeffrey?" Of course a showbiz comedy like this wouldn't be the same without a bunch of cameos. Look for Lars Ulrich, Pink, Christina Aguilera, Tom Felton, Rick Schroder, and of course Kristen Bell.

Aside from the girlfriends, Aldous also gets a separated mother (Dinah Stabb) and father (Colm Meaney) that he tries and fails to connect with, as well as an adorable son (Lino Facioli) that he loves and never gets to see. It all veers very close to Apatow's own Funny People (2009), which ran nearly 2-1/2 hours and was anything but fast-paced. Usually Apatow is very adept, and in fact made his career, balancing heartfelt characters with cutting edge humor, but the trouble with Get Him to the Greek is that the material requires it to be fast-paced, and crazy. It needs to live in the world of rock 'n' roll and racing through airports to make insane last-second deadlines. It needed to slice out all fatty character development and focus on total anarchy.

Duck Soup pulled that off in 1933, so there's no reason it can't be done today -- except that current movie executives demand that characters have an arc and that they come out redeemed. Redemption is great, but it may not be for everybody. If Aldous Snow were real, of course I'd encourage him to get off the drugs and booze, but since he's not real, I'd much rather see him getting crazy.

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