Brand has taken the very superficial joke-on-a-page from Sarah Marshall and developed it into an actual character—flaws and all.
There are two rather unexpected components of Get Him to the Greek which will surprise most moviegoers. First, writer/director Nicholas Stoller has crafted a rather entertaining film as a spinoff to 2008s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. While the latter is a much better film all around, mainly because of Jason Segel’s powerful screenplay and performance, Stoller has done a decent job of taking one of the most memorable characters from that movie, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) and given a bit more depth to what otherwise would have been a one-note character.
The other surprising element to Greek is Aldous Snow himself, played by Brand to absolute perfection. Whereas in Sarah Marshall Aldous Snow was just an arrogant, clueless rock star in Greek he is a once-great artist whose public persona and addiction has lead to a horrific crash and burn. Brand has taken the very superficial joke-on-a-page from Sarah Marshall and developed it into an actual character—flaws and all.
The person charged with managing the destructive tornado of Aldous Snow is Aaron Green (Jonah Hill), a young music executive who suggests a 10-year anniversary show of Snow’s last great performance at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Aaron is stoked for the opportunity but his boss, Sergio (Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs), warns him how volatile rock stars can be and that Snow is no exception.
Aaron has 36 hours to get Snow from London, stop off in New York, and land in L.A. in time for the show. Of course, nothing goes as planned and there are plenty of drunken escapades and drug-induced mayhem as Aaron struggles to corral an egotistical rock star who inherently doesn’t trust record executives and does everything to deviate from the schedule.
Hill, who usually steals every scene with his perfect comedic timing and ability to make anything funny, is mistakenly cast in the straight man role against Brand’s chaotic Aldous Snow. In most of his roles, namely Knocked Up and Superbad, Hill is the highlight of the movie and the actor you can’t wait to come back on screen. Here, he is merely the catalyst for Brand’s outlandish escapades and almost disappears in comparison.
While you can’t say Brand invented this character because much of it is merely Brand being himself (slurred British accent, Captain Jack Sparrow-like swagger and mannerisms), in Greek he challenges himself to give Aldous Snow more of a human side and succeeds. We understand why Snow is the way he is and in one brutally honest scene we even sympathize with the man. Brand manages to make Snow feel like a real rock star whose biggest problem is himself.
Stoller, who wrote the screenplay for this film and directed Sarah Marshall, impressively orchestrates Aldous Snow’s very public career nosedive in an almost wholly contained prologue to the movie. Unfortunately, that is where his control of the film ends. Most of the remaining film feels as if Stoller was rushed to complete what could have been a wonderful meditative look at a different side of who this artist truly is. Stoller appears to have less confidence in his screenplay than he should, which results in a meandering middle bookended by a wonderful beginning and surprisingly poignant ending.
Get Him to the Greek has some good moments and is very funny. And though some parts will feel slow, Brand is consistently hilarious as to make even the dullest scene entertaining. | Matthew F. Newlin