Review: Golden Gods of Comedy Shine on Get Him to the Greek
by Jeremy Kirk
June 2, 2010
The side project, the often tried-but-not-always-true act of a rock star shuffling away from the band that brought them to the big dance. Of course, a side project in the film world is a completely different game, even if the level of success is still the same, unsteady bridge as it is in the music industry. The rare occasion either of these cases works alone is stupendous. A side film project about a rock star is sure to fail, right? Well, don't tell the people behind Get Him to the Greek that, because they've made a truly hysterical film that hits with nearly 100% accuracy. A greatest hits album, if you will, of jokes, cameos, even the occasional slow-down moments for a few, brief glimpses of reflection, the film succeeds at just about every turn.
What else would you expect from Nicholas Stoller, the director of 2008's surprise hit, Forgetting Sarah Marshall? That film had honest characters going through genuinely moving yet hilarious antics, and, with its critical and financial success, you knew a sequel was in order. You didn't expect it like this, though. Taking a secondary character, the flighty but exponentially cool Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), Get Him to the Greek (this time directed and written by Stoller) introduces us to his world of late night after-parties, early morning media hustles, and self-destructive tendencies at every turn.
We follow Jonah Hill as Aaron Green (Jonah Hill), a low-level intern at a record company. After instigating a plan to help turn his company's red into black, Aaron finds himself having to put together the very event he planned out. He has three days to fly to England, retrieve the rock God, and get him back to LA for a 10-year reunion performance at the Greek Theatre. Needless to say, hilarity, hijinks, and heroin ensues, and what started out as a simple escort from point A to point B becomes Aaron's awakening into a world he had only seen as an outsider looking in.
Snow and Brand's portrayal of him was, to some, the most beloved and amusing element of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Stoller's first stroke of genius with his follow-up is in knowing how hilarious Brand can be and the level of insanity he is able to instill in the characters he plays. That aspect of the film writes itself, and the jaunty yet disparaging events we witness through Aaron's eyes seem all the more genuine coming from Brand's effortless performance. In fact, it wouldn't surprise anyone to learn the guy wasn't acting one bit but just stumbled onto set one day acting for the cameras. The real exertion in the film comes from the believability of its straight man, the one who gets into all the same trouble as the rock star but who hasn't become so numb to it as to be able to wake up the next morning without even a five o'clock shadow.
This is one of the areas where Get Him to the Greek falters slightly, this idea of trying to connect with Jonah Hill's Aaron. He's an outsider. We, as the audience, are outsiders, yet some choices (not all, but a few here and there) seem too staged, too unbelievable to make any real connection with us. On one, particular, limo trip to the "Today Show," Aaron decides out of desperation to both begin smoking pot and chugging a bottle of hard liquor. It's necessary to the direction the plot is about to take to have Aaron this messed up, but the path in getting there doesn't exactly pave itself out of nothing.
Regardless, this infraction, minor to even give it a name, does very little in the way of keeping the film from being laugh-out-loud funny. Brand doesn't get all of the laughs, either, and Hill, straight man or not, delivers his own, faire share of the humor. Practically everyone in the film gets their moment to shine from Puff Daddy as the head of the record company who can't wait to find his own rock stardom to Rose Byrne, who brings all the charm of Courtney Love to her role as Snow's ex. Even the sporadic cameos thrown into the mix get hearty chuckles, particularly those best left unannounced.
The humor, though, frenzied and sprawling as it is, still pulls back from time to time to allow the film to head into more dramatic and even darker territory. Much of this works, as well, with Brand turning on the drama just as casually as he seems to be dishing out the comedy. In another instance where Get Him to the Greek makes a slight miscue in its story-telling finds Snow recreating a famous scene from Almost Famous, only the scene here is much darker and its resolution nearly causes the film to head into a direction it shouldn't have turned towards in the first place. The absurdity and the laughs follow shortly after, but the wounds, per se, are still evident both on screen and off.
The golden Gods of comedy shine, though, for what is likely going to go down as the funniest film of 2010. Get Him to the Greek brings one of those rare instances of a sequel/spinoff/side project that is both funnier and better than the planet it orbits. Whether a continued look at Aldous Snow and the knots he gets himself tied into is in the cards, or even if we end up getting a side project of a side project from some, ancillary character in this film (P. Diddy's Sergio Roma would be my, personal choice), you can rest assured that, with Stoller at the wheel, the next film will be faced with the same level of honest and unrelenting humor as Get Him to the Greek. It is a film that truly deserves the encore it is bound to receive.
Jeremy's Rating: 8 out of 10