How you feel about Get Him to the Greek
depends entirely on how you feel about Aldous Snow. Sure,
"The Clap" was a great song, but a lot of fanboys are still
bitter about him shagging Sarah Marshall. Then he left Infant
Sorrow and recorded "African Child," and I think everybody
knows what crap that was.
Still, Aldous (Russell Brand) is the last
of a dying breed, except as Sergio Roma (Sean Combs) points
out, British rock stars pretty much don't die. It's been
ten years since the height of Snow's fame, with an incredibly
popular concert and live album from the Greek Theater in
Los Angeles. The music industry could definitely use a shot
of the adrenaline that Snow used to offer on a regular basis.
Luckily, he always keeps a syringe on hand…
The summer comedy scene could also use
that same shot of adrenaline, and writer/director Nicholas
Stoller delivers it while still managing to tell a decent
story with (gasp) real character arcs. Even if the morality
hidden under the muck is a little mawkish - this is a Judd
Apatow-produced film after all - getting there more than
makes up for it.
to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Greek reteams
Brand with Jonah Hill. This time, however, Hill plays Aaron
Green, an up and coming music executive facing that horrible
moment when you realize that achieving what you want may
not be anywhere near what it's cracked up to be, if you're
really achieving it at all.
It's Aaron who suggests to his boss that
Snow be revived and redeemed by revisiting the Greek. A
life-long fan of Infant Sorrow, Aaron offers up the heretical
notion that what's killing the music industry is the lack
of actual music.
So Stoller throws in some commentary, but
right from the get go, it's also obvious that Snow's problems
are caused by himself. In Forgetting Sarah Marshall,
the world loved his airheaded pretentiousness, but in the
first few minutes of Get Him to the Greek, it reaches
its nadir with the recording of "African Child," a song
in which Snow compares the pain of his coddled existence
to starving in Ethiopia - or some country like that, because
he's not really too sure of the details.
More pressing is whether or not his costume
for the video reflects an African Jesus from Space or an
African Space Jesus. It's for others to decide.
Aldous Snow is hardly the first cinematic
rock star to be desperately in need of a clue. But Stoller
gets the fall out of the way early, so that he can devote
the story to building Snow back up. It helps that Brand
really is a rock star among comedians, an outsized personality
that swings from profound to perverse and back again with
He's also not bad by actual rock star terms,
either. Infant Sorrow's music sounds like somewhere between
The Smiths and Green Day, and once you get past the purposeful
stupidity of some of the lyrics, the songs are actually
good. It may be painful to say it, but "The Clap" is outright
Snow's lost love Jackie Q (Rose Byrne)
fits the other side of the spectrum, a pop princess spouting
inanities with a driving beat and making sure to over-explain
her metaphors. To say she's based on anyone in particular
would be unfair, but maybe we can at least let Christina
Aguilera off the hook as she actually appears in the movie.
That, too, is part of the cleverness of
Stoller's work, starting out outrageously fictional then
weaving in enough real world elements that it all becomes
believable. The only thing that may take you out of it is
Combs, funny enough, but whose own life carries a lot more
weight than his character's; it becomes downright jarring
when Pharrell shows up calling him Sergio.
we've seen enough movies documenting how wild the musician's
lifestyle can be, and despite what Sergio says, a few Brits
have succumbed to their excesses. It's a careful line that
Stoller treads, every now and then letting Snow's mask slip
and show that underneath it all, he really is in pain, a
god of chaos who doesn't know how to stop.
Deep down, he knows it, too, and Brand
underplays that so even though the turns are clearly visible,
he keeps them believable. As does Hill, finally playing
a real person and not just a foul-mouthed joke machine.
Together they make a pretty good comedy
team, just the right kinds of different energy playing off
of each other to push things right to the edge. It might
be interesting to see them team in some other roles, but
for now, Get Him to the Greek is funny enough to
watch a few times.