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3 reviews, 9 user ratings

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Get Him to the Greek
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Brand On The Run"
3 stars

It is said that at one point during the production of the comedy classic “National Lampoon’s Animal House” that John Belushi went to director John Landis and insisted that his character, the wild thing Bluto Blutarsky, should be a part of the extended road trip sequence that took up a big chunk of the film. Landis refused by arguing that while having more of him may have sounded like a good idea, Belushi’s character was such an explosive personality that he was best deployed in short doses here and there--the longer he appeared on screen, the more he ran the risk of wearing out his welcome with the audience. Landis was right, of course, but if you require further proof of the wisdom of his argument, you need look no further than “Get Him to the Greek,” a film which takes dissolute rocker Aldous Snow, the perfectly hilarious supporting character portrayed by British comedian Russell Brand in the ht comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” and places him in an otherwise unrelated vehicle in which said character is now front and center in virtually every scene. While the end result does contain a number of big laughs throughout, both the film and the character grow a bit tiresome after a while and wind up proving once again that sometimes less is more after all.

In an opening montage that is arguably the highlight of the entire film, it is revealed that Snow has fallen on hard times both professionally and personally. On the music front, we learn that his last release, an album entitled “African Child” (you can imagine), was not only an enormous critical and commercial failure but was voted the third worst thing to ever happen to Africa, ranking behind only war and famine. On the personal front, his recent breakup with Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), the enormously popular model/singer who is also the mother of his son, has sent him back into a tailspin of booze, drugs and bad behavior of the type that would offend even the likes of Christina Aguilera. While he is boozing away his days in London, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill, who also appeared in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” though as a completely different character), a junior record company executive back in the U.S. is trying to convince his boss, Sergio Roma (Sean Combs), that if Snow, one of his personal idols, could be lured out of hiding to stage a concert commemorating the 10th anniversary of his legendary concert at L.A.’s Greek Theatre, it could be an enormous success for everyone. Sergio finally sees the wisdom of Aaron’s suggestion and charges him with going to London and bringing him back to America for the big show in three days time with a stop along the way for an appearance on the “Today” show. In news that will surprise no one, the trip does not go as smoothly as planned thanks to Snow’s increasingly deranged behavior, Aaron’s increasingly desperate efforts to keep his hero on something resembling the straight and narrow and pit stops to deal with Jackie Q, Snow’s estranged father (Colm Meany) and Aaron’s med-student girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss), who wants him to move with her from L.A. to Seattle where she has a new job lined up.

Essentially a contemporary riff on the great 1982 film “My Favorite Year,” albeit with far more kissing and jumping and drinking and humping, “Get Him to the Greek” starts off like a shot and contains more big laughs in just its first couple of minutes than the combined efforts of such recent lemons as “MacGruber” and “Sex and the City 2.” However, as it goes along, it begins to betray the same lack of craftsmanship that has plagued so many recent comedies, especially the ones produced under the aegis of Jud Apatow and his cronies. Throughout the film, I got the sense that writer-director Nicholas Stoller (who also did “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) started off with only the bare bones of a screenplay on the assumption that he and the cast would improvise large chunks of material and that he would carve the final film out of all that footage in the editing room. (Adding credence to this particular theory is the amount of material seen in the TV commercials and trailers that is nowhere to be found in the final film.) The trouble with that approach is that without a strong and clear foundation from which the improvisation can spring from, it feels more like a loose collection of sketches than a fully developed story. This is okay as long as the sketches are inspired--as they are during such sequences as the opening montage, the record company bull session and the drunken reunion with Snow’s father in Vegas--but when they aren’t, they tend to descend into repetitive sequences in which Snow acts deranged while Aaron has various items coming and going from various orifices. After a while, the ramshackle nature of the story begins to work against the film--the turning point is probably the long “Today” show sequence that seems to have been included mostly because NBC and Universal Pictures are part of the same corporate entity (and there is also a blatant and extended plug for “The Biggest Loser” shoehorned in as well)--and after the comedic highpoint of the Vegas sequence, the story, which should be hurtling towards its climax at that point, begin to really meander with scenes in which we are supposed to sincerely care about Snow and his personal problems and loses nearly all of its momentum by the time it arrives at its climax.

The other big problem with the film is the fact that Aldous Snow simply isn’t a strong enough personality to base an entire screenplay upon. In small doses, he can be very funny but after a while, he just becomes kind of annoying. The difference between him and, say, the similar part played by Peter O’Toole in “My Favorite Year” is that O’Toole was playing a fully-developed character, one that could encompass both the outrageous humor and physical shtick as well as the more sincere and dramatic material, while Brand is essentially playing a one-note caricature, which can work to a certain degree in the context of a supporting role but not as the main focus of the story. More significantly, O’Toole was strong enough of an actor to be able to negotiate both the flamboyantly over-the-top material as well as the quieter, character-driven moments as well and as a result, he took what could have simply been one long drunk joke and transformed it into what I firmly believe to be the finest performance of his entire career. By comparison, Brand is okay--he nails the attitude of an egocentric artist who simply cannot comprehend that the world does not actually revolve around him and he and Jonah Hill work up some interesting comedic byplay here and there--but he never pushes the characterization to anything beyond what one might find in a typical “SNL” sketch. This becomes a problem because after a while, both the character and performance grow somewhat monotonous and it becomes a bigger problem towards the end when we are asked to treat Snow like a real human being even though it is painfully evident that Brand himself can’t quite make the shift either.

I can’t really recommend that you go out and spend your hard-earned money to go see “Get Him to the Greek”--it never lives up to the promise of its opening scenes and it just gets to be kind of a drag towards the end. That said, there are a lot of things about it that I did like. Some of the big set-pieces, such as the opening bit and the stopover in Vegas, are legitimately hilarious sequences that go off into weird areas without ever losing the narrative focus. The Aldous Snow songs that we hear throughout the film do a good job of sounding like they could have been legitimate songs despite the ludicrous nature of their lyrics. The supporting turns by Rose Byrne and Sean Combs are so funny and memorable that I found myself wishing that they would get their own spin-off movies in spite of the fact that they were appearing in the context of a film that essentially serves as a argument against such things. Besides, it is pretty much impossible to stand completely against a film that features appearances from both Pink and Paul Krugman--as themselves, of course.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19511&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/04/10 00:05:00
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User Comments

6/18/11 RLan Brand was great, Coombs was great, Hill is the reason the rating isn't higher. 4 stars
4/17/11 Hugh G Rection Not even worth the $1 Red Box rental - sucked hard. 1 stars
3/14/11 millersxing Get Charlie Sheen for the sequel 3 stars
11/27/10 othree 2 Main leads funny as hell, suprisingly funny, Jonah Hill was way better then imagined! 5 stars
9/30/10 M Pft.... 2 stars
6/12/10 Ming A very funny movie..I laugh so loud 4 stars
6/06/10 g, so effin funny 5 stars
6/04/10 Ronald Holst To me Is was Campy way to campy 2 stars
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  04-Jun-2010 (R)
  DVD: 28-Sep-2010


  DVD: 28-Sep-2010

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