Outrageous behavior has long been a major staple of rock music lore. Bands as wide-ranging as Led Zeppelin to Depeche Mode are infamous for their over-the-top, destructive actions while out in the magical realm known as "The Road."
Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) does his damndest to keep the self-indulgent rock star fantasy alive in Get Him to the Greek. It's a wildly uneven rock 'n' roll road comedy that falls flat as often as it hits the mark.
Get Him to the Greek features Brand reprising his role as Snow, the whacked out, in his own orbit singer of Infant Sorrow, that he first played in 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Snow was just support in that film, here he's all on his own -- sort of.
Jonah Hill (also in Forgetting Sarah Marshall but a different character, sort of) plays Aaron Green, an underling at Pinnacle Records who worships at the altar of Snow. Green is dispatched to the U.K. to successfully bring Snow to Los Angeles in 72 hours for an important concert that might help revive the fledgling Pinnacle.
Snow has fallen from public grace since his "African Child" single became a global critical bomb. Combine that artistic embarrassment with the loss of his doe-eyed girlfriend Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), and Snow goes into a dark tailspin of booze, drugs and denial.
When Green arrives in London, Snow prefers the bottle and the birds (lots of both) rather than getting on a cross-Atlantic flight, but once they hit the road, it's non-stop debauchery for the pair. Snow's used to it, Green not so much, ending up a disheveled mess, bleary eyed, covered in vomit and with Snow's drugs stuffed deep into an uncomfortable orifice. Rock 'n' roll!
The opening montage blazes by giving the film a satirical edge that it never regains. Snow waxing philosophically about the importance of the disastrous "African Child," complete with outlandish video excerpts, taps into all the right levels of vacuous entertainers and the shows that force feed these dolts to the public.
The early satire is short lived, the story becoming lost in traditional relationship angles, and only pops up a few times for the risqué pop videos from Jackie Q (best of the lot was a crude, danceable ode to her derriere). This was a missed opportunity for the filmmakers.
Brand is a stand-up comedian who specializes in comedy of the confessional and excess. This is also the case for the only real character he's played on-screen: Aldous Snow. How far he has gone, or will go, becomes grist for Brand's stand-up routine and for Snow. Your enjoyment of the film likely depends on whether his antics tickle you. I'm lukewarm about Brand's stand-up, books, Aldous Snow and Get Him to the Greek, all too interconnected to separate from one another.
The big laughs in Get Him to the Greek belong to Jonah Hill. In a weird and unexpected way, Snow is the straight man in the film despite the fact he's the crazy, unpredictable, ego-driven rock star. Snow's act never changes, and he's actually quite predictable, lifeless and one-note. It's Green that goes through all the madness of Snow's world unleashed on him. It's cringe-worthy and funny to watch Green go off the deep end and see just what will happen next to the poor guy. All thanks to Snow. Hill taps into the places that make him such an odd-ball film actor with his roly-poly physique and strange comic timing.
My least favorite thing about the film is its overuse of Sean (Puff Daddy or P. Diddy or whatever absurd moniker he comes up with next) Combs as the ranting record executive and Green's boss. His screen time should have been halved at the very least. Daddy/Diddy probably rationalized his participation as a subversive statement against the music industry, it wasn't. He just comes off as a depthless caricature that resembles his arrogant host of MTV's Making the Band, ramped up and with the F-words fully audible.
Get Him to the Greek has its moments; although they occur too infrequently for it to be considered a successful comedy. For all its talk about what rock 'n' roll is or isn't, the film is actually just a traditional road comedy based on relationships and characters getting that a-ha (not the Norwegian synth-pop band) moment where they become a better person. Not very rock 'n' roll I know but at least there was plenty of sex and drugs (and a few laughs) during the journeys of self-discovery.
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