The antics of Russell Brand is an acquired taste. There isn’t much in ways of middle ground with him — either both his lewdness and outrageousness is funny or it’s not. The way around this love him / hate him relationship was done masterfully in Forgetting Sarah Marshall — he was relegated to a supporting role. It was done so well in fact, that his character of the self indulgent rock star Aldous Snow stole the show. Get Him to the Greek, the latest from the Judd Apatow crew, seeks to capitalize on this narcissistic, out of control rocker by making him the star of his very own film.
And damn, wouldn’t you know, they did a mighty fine job of it too. But not by toning the antics of their lead — oh, no — actually they’ve ramped them up 100-fold. Instead, director Nick Stoller (and whoever else was involved with the decision) cast Jonah Hill as the foil to Brand’s antagonist; the ying to Brand’s yang.
They’re put together because head honcho of Pinnacle Records, Sergio (Sean “Diddy” Combs), needs a way to drum up business and Aaron Green (Hill) dreamed up the winning idea — a tenth-anniversary comeback concert with scandalized British rocker Aldous Snow (it was determined his last album “African Child” was more damaging to Africa than apartheid). Problem is, Snow, under a massive stink cloud of alcohol, drugs, and other illegal and obscure fetishes, can’t be trusted to make it to the engagement himself. Aaron must escort him, first to the Today show where the concert is to be announced, and then across the country to the Greek Theater where the show is set to take place.
When a consequences-be-damned and a straight-laced guy are dropped together into situations unknown and/or uncomfortable to themselves, good comedy can generally be found nearby. It should also come as no surprise that the variety of comedy in Get Him to the Greek is of the lowest common denominator — each subsequent film involving Apatow and team seeks to outdo the previous by ratcheting up the expletives and gross-outs. Whereas male nudity was the “it” factor last year, it has been pushed aside here for an over abundance of bodily expulsions, much of it at the expense of poor Aaron and his low tolerance to mega doses of drugs and alcohol. Who knew sick matched so well with funny?
Darting in and out of this family safe (joking, of course), road trippy romp is a tsunami of celebrity cameos — Pink, Rick Schroder, Mario Là³pez, to name a few — “tastefully” and humorously incorporated to lend credence into this farcical look at the entertainment industry. The movie is further bolstered by a slew of original tunes and music videos that, while being patently offensive, are funny and catchy as hell.
But if you’re not careful, during the last half of the movie, you almost won’t notice the metamorphosis Aldous and Aaron go through during their outrageous travels which take them from New York to Vegas to Los Angeles. Aldous, who couldn’t have been played any better by Brand, realizes his outlandish actions, that are illegal in most every civilized country, are a result from his lonliness, a result, in part from, his split with longtime girlfriend Jackie Q (Rose Byrne). Likewise, it doesn’t take long for Aaron, played equally as well by the dough-eyed, frumpy Hill, to realize living the life of excess is not meant for him — he belongs back in his normal world reconciled with the woman he loves, Daphne Binks (Elisabeth Moss). Is it any wonder women cause men to act out in ways not in their best interests? Kudos, to Stoller (who also co-wrote), however, for managing to work in these heartfelt moments among the chaos — they really help the viewer to connect with these flawed characters.
In my review of The Back-up Plan, I remarked the worst film of 2010 had been made. Get Him to the Greek is on the opposite side of the spectrum: 2010, as of today, meet the best comedy of your year.