[4 June 2010]
Get Him to the Greek is an enjoyable addition to Judd Apatow’s expanding canon of bromances. In this version, record company lackey Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is tasked with getting rock superstar Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) halfway around the world for a concert in three days. Of course, Snow is afflicted with rock star ADD, which means he can never pass up an opportunity to party. Green seesaws between enabling the debauchery and badgering Snow to keep moving. This being an Apatow production, their road is paved with sex, drugs, and bathroom humor.
Though it sounds like a road trip movie, it never feels like it travels at all. Instead, Snow and Green are dropped into a series of set pieces in hotels, bars, and clubs—in London, New York, Vegas, and Los Angeles—but really, they could be anywhere. The trip itself is too easy by half: there’s always another plane or car waiting for them when they need to move to the next destination. Luckily, this does not detract from the real fun of the movie, which is watching Brand and the shockingly good Sean Combs riff their way through this bare-bones story. The movie should belong to Hill, but he mostly plays straight man to his costars. Green is so inconsistently written that it’s distracting at times. His actions, starting with an inexplicable belief that his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss) has broken up with him, seem designed primarily to keep the plot moving.
That plot falls somewhere between a sequel to and a spin-off from Forgetting Sarah Marshall (like this film, directed by Nicholas Stoller), in which Snow was a secondary character. While Kristen Bell has a very funny cameo as Sarah in a promo for her new TV series, Snow takes over here. And he’s an offshoot of Brand’s own persona, part laconic and part manic. The bad boy rock star could easily have been a one-note character, but here he has a compelling backstory that includes neglectful parents, a pop tart ex-girlfriend, and a touching relationship with his own young son. Brand also sings some of the best fake British rock songs since Spinal Tap, tunes that are actually quite catchy. These are most entertaining when the lyrics are cringe-worthy, as in the horrifyingly offensive “African Child,” for which Snow vamps his way through a hilariously tasteless music video.
Combs, of course, knows a thing or two about music videos. But don’t be too quick to dismiss his performance as music mogul Sergio Roma as a stylized version of himself. He digs into the part with such enthusiasm and glee that it’s impossible not to smile every time Combs is on screen. If he occasionally overacts, he also manages to turn something as simple as, say, looking for cheese sticks in the refrigerator, into a bit of inspired comedy.
Get Him to the Greek is full of such bits, but none is better than a Las Vegas party scene where Snow, Green, Roma, and Snow’s father (Colm Meaney, whose role is otherwise thankless) get into a bloody fight. The argument tips over some slapstick genius involving an adrenaline shot, a variety of drugs, furry walls, and a ridiculously enjoyable foot race.
Such over-the-top antics can’t stop the standard Apatow trajectory, wherein at least one of the boys must become a man. That task falls to Green, who undergoes an inevitable and completely unearned epiphany. Lucky for Snow, he doesn’t have to witness the change; he ends up pretty much exactly where he started, which is where every fake rock star should be.