REVIEW: ‘Get Him to the Greek’

Grade: B-

Over the past several years from a certain creative team we have essentially seen a continuation of the same movie. It started with 2005’s The 40-Year Old Virgin which featured Seth Rogen as a supporting character to Steve Carell. Then in 2007 Rogen stepped up into the lead role in the comedy Knocked Up, which featured Jason Segel as a supporting actor. Segel got his turn for the lead in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall with Jonah Hill as a supporting character. In each subsequent film many of the actors re-appear and many references are made to the preceding narrative.

In 2010 it is Jonah Hill’s time to step into the lead role in the comedy Get Him to the Greek. Hill is surrounded by both comedic superstars and non-actors attempting comedy in the summer road trip farce. Just like its predecessors, Get Him to the Greek attempts both laughter and warmth – sufficiently succeeding at the former and not devoting nearly enough time to the latter.

Hill stars as Aaron Green, a talent scout at a music production company with an overworked long-term girlfriend and a growing sense of regret that his life has become less exciting. Aaron has just been assigned his dream job by his eccentric boss, Sergio Roma – go to London and pick up rock star Aldous Snow and bring him to the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles for a huge anniversary performance.

Eccentric and sex-crazed rocker Aldous Snow returns from Forgetting Sarah Marshall with little continuation of his character from then to now (apart from a reference to his relationship in the last film – “didn’t I used to do her?”). Snow has recently fallen off the wagon after years of sobriety as his personal life is becoming increasingly worse. Aaron and Aldous both are forced to face their personal demons while one continually sabotages the other.

Just like in his directorial debut, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Nicholas Stoller gives Greek a jagged pace. The film goes from hyper speed with heavy use of montage and brief scenes with quick cuts to painfully slow moments. He uses both techniques for humor and drama, and neither method is particularly successful. I found that I liked the film best when it was in hyperactivity mode, such as the brief Las Vegas sidebar where Aaron attempts to procure heroine for Aldous.

While raunchy humor is the main component of Get Him to the Greek the third act of the film gets surprisingly introspective. Abandonment and isolation become major themes for the two main characters as they find their inner unhappiness and begin to regret their life choices. This emotional shift would have worked nicely if it were built up to throughout the film, but the first act was too distracted by the jokes that we lost some of the character connection. For instance there is a scene where Aldous Snow connects with his son who has been all but vacant until the third act. The lack of character attention that the son received and the persona that had been built up for Snow makes it difficult to be moved by their brief moment of sentimentality.

The lack of real feeling at the touching moments can be overlooked, however, because Get Him to the Greek is honestly quite funny. Jonah Hill carries the film as the genuinely likable protagonist with the perfect level of awkwardness and desperation that is very relatable. We have all been put in that situation where we have to try so hard to impress somebody who wants to make our lives miserable.

I have only ever seen Russell Brand as Aldous Snow in Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but he has definitely found a character that works for him. His performances of Aldous Snow’s musical numbers were also among the films many hilarious moments. The rest of the supporting cast fit their comedic roles perfectly including Rose Byrne as Snow’s slutty ex-wife, Elisabeth Moss as Green’s neurotic and overworked girlfriend, and Aziz Ansari and Nick Kroll as talent scouts.

The one performance that felt painfully awkward was Sean “P. Diddy” Combs as the easily enraged record company executive Sergio Roma. Despite Diddy’s best efforts his character was completely one-note and his delivery felt robotic. This may not have been his fault, however. It felt like Diddy was being used by screenwriter Nicholas Stoller as the black guy who can finally tell all of the white screenwriter’s racist jokes.

Now that Jonah Hill has gotten his chance at the lead we get to find out which supporting character will be next to step into the spotlight as the star of a raunchy comedy. My prediction is Aziz Ansari who has been a great minor character in several films, but has yet to have a breakout leading role.

Bottom Line: Overall, Get Him to the Greek is a rather funny movie. Not quite laugh out loud, but at least worthy of some self-amusing chuckles.

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  • You’re absolutely correct when you say “Get Him to the Greek” works best at a fast clip; Russell Brand’s comedy doesn’t really lend itself to quiet, indie flick-style introspection, does it? But still the man is a keen observer of human nature, and I love that about him.

    In my own review I said — and I realize this is possibly too deep for a movie about a rock star who sings about the clap — that the characters are very different but they fill gaps in each other. I could see how two such very opposite people would have a friendship. It’s believable to me.

    But mostly I just laughed at P. Diddy’s mindf*cking speech. Almost a week later and I’ll never get that mental picture outta this brainpan!

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