Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), once a prominent figure in the rock music industry, has just hit the downward spiral of his career. About as controversial as the Beatles’ claim to be bigger than God, Snow and his band, Infant Sorrow, have just released an album inappropriately titled “African Child.” Before its release, the album was built up to be something great (Snow himself ranked it on par with “Sgt. Pepper”). After it finally hits, it receives colossal backlash from both critics and fans alike, earning entitlements such as the worst album of the decade and the third most detrimental factor to African culture (just below war and famine).
Not only that, but Aldous has also ended his relationship with his post-Sarah Marshall girlfriend and collaborative musician, Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), a luminary in the same stream as, say, the Pussycat Dolls. He is also experiencing a wicked relapse after a seven-year-long stint with sobriety. Now separated, Jackie is the one achieving all of the prestigious accolades and Snow’s rock reputation is dwindling more and more by the day, as he starts becoming more famous for his run-ins with the paparazzi. It truly will take a brilliant idea to send Aldous back to the top.
Luckily, a young representative to Pinnacle Records by the name of Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) gets the idea to organize a comeback performance for Aldous. It will shortly be the tenth anniversary of his widely acclaimed concert at the Greek Theater, giving him all the more incentive to follow through with this scheme. He believes that it will be just the thing to relaunch Aldous’s career as well as to boost the declining status of his record company. Sergio Roma (Sean “Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/whatever else” Combs), Aaron’s irreverent and egotistical boss, only begrudgingly decides to make his brainchild a reality after Aldous signs on to do it.
In the days prior to the big event, Green is sent to England to pick up Aldous and supervise/assist him in getting to his public appearances promoting the concert. Only after a few hours does he realize that this responsibility levels out to more of a chore. Snow’s rambunctious and unpredictable nature repeatedly delays Aaron’s pre-planned deadlines set out by Sergio. Not to mention that his excesses in heavy drinking, drug abuse and sexual promiscuity further complicate matters until they are out of hand, especially when he brings Aaron into the mix. Aaron’s attempts to respectfully but effectively quell this behavior culminate with him making more and more of an ass of himself by the minute.
While this could be the formula for a run-of-the-mill raunchy road comedy (and believe me, it CAN be like that for the first half of the movie), “Get Him To The Greek” manages to out-do the competition by having bits of true humanity on its side. This isn’t necessarily an above-average road-trip movie as much as it is a fine movie with crumbs of R-rated raunchy, gross-out humor scattered in parts throughout the movie. As I have discovered in my journeys, Judd Apatow rarely associates himself with COMPLETELY tasteless movies.
Jonah Hill and Russell Brand’s performances as Aaron Green and Aldous Snow, respectively, stand out as two of the best this year in regards to comedy. Aaron is a hard-working character who earnestly wants to do everything right with the least possible slip-ups. On top of this, he is trying to patch up a struggling relationship with his girlfriend, a young doctor named Daphne (Elisabeth Moss). In contrast, Aldous lives the rock-and-roll lifestyle to the fullest without showing the slightest sign of worry. Together, the two characters’ contradictory chemistry is eminently entertaining.
As the movie progresses, the viewer will begin realize that the two characters are not all that different from each other. While exteriorly appearing as a pompous, self-absorbed playboy, it is slowly revealed that Aldous is more of a troubled personality than he cares to let on (and THAT’S saying something). For example, he is still torn up about the break-up between him and Jackie Q and longs for things to go back to the way they used to be. She is most of the reason why he has given up sobriety and almost all of the reason why he cannot go back. Another damaging cause for his behavior is because of his upbringing under a greedy father figure (Colm Meaney) who milked his celebrity for his own benefit. The more and more that is revealed, the more it becomes apparent that Snow is an absolute psychological trainwreck.
While the overall joke writing is probably the least valuable trait the movie has to offer, it still unquestionably delivers on the laughs, ranging from low-brow gross-out humor to sharp, witty dialogue. While there is a little too much of Jonah Hill throwing up for my taste, I found myself laughing many times throughout. Whether it was Sergio spouting out coarse, insensitive insults toward his employees, Aldous’s affectionate term for a Neapolitan-style joint that has disastrous consequences on Aaron’s health or Aldous forgetting the lyrics to “African Child” seconds before performing on the Today Show, there is certainly something to please any fan of comedy. There are even throwbacks to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” of which this is a spin-off, including Aldous’s “seven years of sobriety” tattoo on his neck, and Sarah Marshall’s inability to choose a role for an appealing TV series.
Most importantly, I’m glad that the film didn’t amp up their characters to the point of utter disbelief. As many comedies these days try too hard to extract a laugh from their audience, they do so at the expense of legitimate authenticity in their characters. While some movies that follow that path can interest me, I much prefer real, down-to-earth comedy. The latter has a greater likelihood to fail with the mainstream audience, but it is when a great comedy in this vein comes along and makes an impact that the feat is more impressive. Every character in the movie is portrayed realistically and is written with valid dialogue, character quirks, insecurities, witticisms and of-the-moment goodness.
While you may have noticed I gave a mildly positive review to “MacGruber” last week on the merits of its mindless charm, “Get Him To The Greek” truly deserves my recommendation. Being a Judd Apatow-produced comedy, I was hoping for this movie, first and foremost, to be entertaining. Especially after the two meh-fests he was correlated with in 2009, the abysmal “Year One” and the admittedly heartfelt, though way too personal “Funny People.” Luckily, all who were affiliated managed to craft a seriously fun, genuinely funny and, in all honesty, pleasantly sentimental piece of cinema that is almost good enough to make up for the two bombs last year…okay, not even close to making up for “Year One,” but still.