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The glory that is Russell Brand’s character Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall stems from two words: supporting role. On paper, expanding the obnoxious and vain sexual deviant’s background part to head up his own vehicle seems like a slamdunk—and it is to some respect. Although it underperformed at the box office opening weekend, Get Him to the Greek appeals to its audience and makes them laugh hard. But does humor alone create a success? I’m undecided on whether I laughed or looked towards my wrist for the watch I don’t wear in boredom more during the course of the movie. It all snowballs out of control into a series of repetitious events chock full of stereotypical “Behind the Music”-type clichés attempting to manufacture a history of negligent parenting and fast-lane living. It’s all well and good for a singular character used as comic relief, or maybe even an extended skit or short film, but to rely on those antics for almost two hours is unsustainable. In the end, my final thought when leaving the theatre wasn’t how great a time I had with this film, it was reminiscing how sweet, charming, and funny Jason Segel’s original tale is.

This proves how fresh and Apatonian—when that meant something—Segel’s script was, becoming more than just the jokes and raunchy humor at the hands of those on the periphery of his Peter Bretter role. Nicholas Stoller is an accomplished director, no doubt. He keeps your interest and knows when to over-crank the footage for slomo Jonah Hill and his goofy expressions as well as add some flourishes like the unforgettable tongue-camera. But when it comes to the writing, the overall story here is comparable to one of those surface pleasures lacking a central dynamic core that Hill’s Aaron Green speaks of towards the end. Sure there are good times to be had, but do any stick to be redeeming and worth a second glance? I’m hard-pressed to recall many. The concept itself is simple—a record executive’s minion has 72-hours to get his idol, the drug-addled and insolent Snow, from London, to NY, to LA for a ten year anniversary show at the Greek Theatre. It’s up to mild-mannered Aaron Green to do whatever is necessary to make it happen. If that means cutting loose, getting crazy, and showing he has no limits to the vomit capacity of his stomach, well so be it. And that’s about all there is to it.

Some intricacies are thrown in for good measure, like the former lover Jackie Q and her success post-break-up while Snow spirals into oblivion; the resentful father who’s own musically inclined hard-lifestyle has driven the bond of family away; the constant tug-of-war between a life of sobriety and feeling against one of inebriation and the one-track thought of where to score next; and the loneliness associated with being such a misogynistic heathen. All these things lead towards some hilarious results yet are also empty beyond the laugh, sucking any joy away when the laughter gives way to story. You seriously don’t learn to like any of the characters onscreen, so when a pithy moment of reflection or redemption occurs, (don’t worry, there aren’t many), it is never truly earned. The instance only screeches the proceedings to a grinding halt, dragging on while we wish for the comedy to return. Segel’s Peter in Sarah Marshall was the kind of everyman you can relate to and pull for as his life hits the kind of snags your own eventually catches on. With Snow it is all a big joke and Hill’s Green, well he ends up being one more selfish jerk needing a weekend of unadulterated pleasure—although it sure doesn’t look like fun come morning—to realize what he has at home.

While the plot is as obvious as can be, the craziness connecting the journey together does ultimately leave you in hysterics more often than not. If you can get over the fact you are watching three straight nights of getting drunk, having sex, and watching as Snow is ready for the next day at 6am while Green is barely cogent enough to function, then you’ll enjoy yourself. The two actors do have a memorable rapport, making gags such as heroin up the anus, absinthe-induced palsies/dancing during the night, and exchanges of self-worth tickle your fancy. But soon come glimpses of darkness, completely out of touch with the rest of what’s happening; rages so intense and frightening you believe some real stakes may come into play, only to find the quarrel forgotten soon after. For every top-notch interlude like Las Vegas, a scene of pure genius comedy by Brand, Hill, Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs, (mocking himself the entire film to great effect as Hill’s boss), and Colm Meaney, (Snow’s tired, stereotypical father), smoking a ‘Jeffrey’ and rubbing furry walls between gunshots, broken vases, and wrestling, there are two absurdly bland vignettes that try too hard, like a misguided search for heroin with T.J. Miller.

If Get Him to the Greek consistently excels at anything, it is with its perfect utilization of the cameo. All the media blitz stuff is realistically spot-on with Mario Lopez, Meredith Vieira, and others doing their talk show commentating while tabloid montages including the likes of Pink, Christina Aguilera, and Kurt Loder add a layer of crazy. No one, though, can trump the inspired inclusion of Metallica’s Lars Ulrich, owning a portion of the film by the significance of his presence alone. It is unfortunately sad when bit roles by non-actors playing themselves actually overshadow the supporting parts by Elisabeth Moss, the wet-blanket girlfriend of Hill, and personal favorite Rose Byrne, a one-note caricature that brought a giggle due to her over-the-top accent, that just don’t have much to work with. I won’t, however, deny the plethora of one-liners strewn about, or the pop culture reference-laden dialogue. The comparisons with Sarah Marshall are unavoidable, though. The role of Aldous Snow itself isn’t even really the same guy since he’s given an astonishing level of intelligence lacking in his first film, a necessity I guess since we must accompany him for the duration this time. Stoller did make the right move including the brilliantly conceived commercial of Kristen Bell on TV as a callback. And adding a little Ricky Schroder to the joke was priceless contextually too.

Get Him to the Greek 6/10

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photography:
[1] (Foreground, L to R) Aaron (JONAH HILL) and Aldous (RUSSELL BRAND) run from Aaron’s boss, Sergio (SEAN COMBS), in “Get Him to the Greek”, the story of a record company executive with three days to drag an uncooperative rock legend to Hollywood for a comeback concert. The comedy is the latest film from producer Judd Apatow. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson Copyright: © 2010 Universal Pictures. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
[2] Company yes men Kevin (NICK KROLL) and Matty (AZIZ ANSARI) in “Get Him to the Greek”, the story of a record company executive with three days to drag an uncooperative rock legend to Hollywood for a comeback concert. The comedy is the latest film from producer Judd Apatow. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson Copyright: © 2010 Universal Pictures. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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