By JP Chapman | June 3, 2010
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Writer: Nicholas Stoller (characters: Jason Segel)
Starring: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Elisabeth Moss, Rose Byrne, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Miles O’Brien
America….welcome Aldous Snow to your stages and hearts. Reprising his role of debauchery infused British rock star Aldous Snow (is there any other kind?), Russell Brand is in full effect in new film Get Him to the Greek . The larger question of this film though isn’t whether or not Aldous will make it to the Greek theatre, but if America will embrace Brand as the celebrity/star that he already is in England. Known primarily in America for his role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, as well as his turn at Jonas brother bashing during a stint hosting the VMA’s, Russell Brand has been on the verge, but not quite breaking through for quite some time. Meanwhile, his off-beat comedy has found him in the same crowd as Britain’s biggest stars back home….the Gallagher brothers of Oasis. Brand’s erratic behavior (coming to work at MTV studios dressed as Osama Bin Laden on Sep. 12, 2001) as well as his seemingly constant brushes with addiction, seems to be setting him up for either mega-stardom, or a quick plunge into obscurity. If Get Him to the Greek offers any indication of which direction he may be headed, it looks to be for mega-stardom. Is that a good thing though?
Get Him to the Greek follows the story of Infant Sorrow front man Aldous Snow as he spirals into addiction and despair following the release of a disastrously offensive single: “African Child (Trapped In Me)”. Widely lambasted as the worst sentiment towards Africa since apartheid, Snow’s career and credibility crumble around him after a lengthy and successful career fronting a great British rock band. Meanwhile, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is working as a young A&R representative for one of the last standing major labels in LA. In a brainstorming session with label boss Sergio (played by Sean “Diddy” Combs), Green brings up the idea of celebrating the anniversary of Infant Sorrow (his favorite band of all time) with a reunion performance at Los Angeles’s Greek Theatre. After first turning the idea down as stupid, Sergio runs the numbers and decides that this will not only be an uber-profitable venture, but will also be a great chance for Aaron to prove himself in handling a difficult artist. He tasks Aaron with going to London to pick Snow up and getting him back to the Greek in time for the show. Along the way, Aldous’s partying pulls the duo to London, New York, and even Las Vegas. It’s a coin-toss whether or not Snow’s destructive nature will allow him to re-ignite his career, or will sabotage it even more with him missing his big comeback performance at the Greek.
The actual similarities between Get Him to the Greek and its predecessor, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, are really quite small. Outside of the character of Aldous Snow, director Nicholas Stoller is the only bridge to the past that remains between the films. Even Jonah Hill takes on a new character from the one portrayed in Sarah Marshall. For the first 20 min. or so of Get Him to the Greek, this really bothered me. However; the Apatowian man-child angst of Hill along with Brand’s charisma did manage to win me over as the film progressed. My one standing issue with this film is that with Segel (who wrote Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Apatow as only background producers, things start to move towards the terrain of standard comedy. In many ways, Greek is really the commercialization of the Apatow school of comedies, heads more towards the ground covered in Apatow’s colleague and friend, Adam Sandler’s films. Is this a terrible thing? No. I enjoy the occasional Adam Sandler film and enjoy mindless comedy as much as the next guy. In fact, this is the primary driver that will likely push Russell Brand to levels of success that thus far he’s only achieved in England. My only disappointment is in the fear that we’re starting to lose the shine that adorns Apatow’s unique brand of comedy. In conjunction with this, I see Brand being quickly stereotyped into the rock-star persona for every film after this- again much like Sandler’s baby-talking characters. Like I said, this will probably make Brand and the studios enormous amounts of money, and America will eat it up. I’m just a little disappointed as I think he’s capable of more. Let’s hope my vision of the future doesn’t come to pass…
This being said, performance-wise, both Hill and Brand do an awesome job of carrying the film. Particularly, Brand—who shows real talent and I really do think will only become a bigger and bigger star (regardless of future type-casting). Even Diddy’s performance provided some of the best laughs of the film. Stoller did his best job to keep the spirit of Sarah Marshall alive in this film, but ultimately wasn’t able to capture much of the innocence and that intangible “Apatow” quality that I mentioned previously. This being said, he did make an amusing and enjoyable film. Finally, Brand’s musical performances were surprisingly not bad! Listen to the previews of the “Infant Sorrow” cd on ITunes now—I was quite impressed/surprised with how legitimate it sounds (outside of the ridiculous lyrics).
All in all, Get Him to the Greek is a fun, if by the numbers comedy. It will probably make Russell Brand a big star, and will get him even bigger roles in other films. There’s nothing ground-breaking here, but I walked out of the film happy for the most part. So, I would say this one is worth checking out.