The premise is a simple one, one likely heard many a time during the endless bombardment of commercials: a record company employee must get a rock star to the Greek Theater in 72 hours. However, producer Judd Apatow has built his career by taking these simple stories, mixing in some raunchy humor, adding a moral, and turning them into comedic and box office gold. Get Him to the Greek is no exception.
Russell Brand reprises his Forgetting Sarah Marshall role as that lothario rock star, Aldous Snow. His life spirals out of control after his band releases African Child, an album which “Rolling Stone ranked third behind famine and war in things detrimental to Africa.” His musician sexpot wife, Jackie Q (Rose Byrne) gets burnt out on his New Age lifestyle and leaves him, causing Snow to fall off the wagon and party himself into obscurity.
On the other side of the Atlantic, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) struggles as he attempts to juggle his exciting job at a record label with his blasé home life with his med student girlfriend. To rejuvenate the label’s sales slump, Aaron suggests an Aldous Snow 10-year anniversary concert at the Greek theater. His boss, record mogul Sergio Roma (Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs), gives him this “career resurrecting” task: fly Aldous Snow from London, escort him to his Today Show appearance, and then Get Him to the Greek.
Although the rest of the movie’s plot is the obvious drunken/drug induced mishaps throughout London and the United States, these antics are thoroughly enjoyable to watch. Unlike many other comedies, in which every moment of humor is bled dry for the trailer, most commercials include many lines or scenes that didn’t make the theatrical cut. (The many options will likely mean a DVD package with many deleted scenes.) Director Nick Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), leads a cast comfortable with comedy and improv to every possible comedic moment. Brand is at his best firing off witty lines, and Hill is the king of awkward humor. Reportedly concerned about entering the world of comedy, P. Diddy draws upon his real-life experience, as well as his dramatic turn as Walter Lee Younger on the Broadway revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” to join these veteran comedians as one of the most outrageous-and quotable- characters in the film.
The problems with the film came with distilling this comedy into the concept. Watching two bumbling, drunk guys make their way through bars, airports, the Today Show, and Las Vegas can be entertaining; but, when the addiction is clearly a way to avoid depression and pain, the plot veers into dark terrain. Russell Brand has been very vocal about his struggles to overcome bulimia, alcoholism, and his addiction to cocaine in his autobiography, My Booky Wook, making the dark side of the performance a little too real. As the musician stumbles his way towards the Greek Theater, the comedy in his revelries wane, replaced with the hope that he will again find sobriety. The character Aldous Snow became a mixture of dark moments of addiction and loneliness combined with drug induced antics; neither showcasing the lovable rock star persona that propelled Brand to fame during Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Get Him to the Greek is a consistent addition to the Apatow repertoire. Like the others, it includes a cast and crew of many Apatow regulars, a very vulgar and raunchy take on a simple story, and quotable lines of dialogue from almost every scene, with a moral with a heart of gold buried underneath it all. This movie will be a phenomenal DVD rental, or a good way to get out of the summer heat.