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Monday, September 27, 2010

A Humor-Filled Chore to Get Him to the Greek

Get Him to the Greek: 3 and 1/2 out of 5 Stars
Aldous: It's OK, don't stop rubbing the furry wall.
A frequently funny, but sometimes uneven comedy and spin-off from my favorite of the recent Apatow branded comedies, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. This film does a good job of throwing the leads into some very funny situations; however, it never quite agrees on being too wacky of a road trip/buddy comedy or a darker comedy about a rock star coming back from going way off the wagon.

Playing a different character from 'Sarah Marshall', Jonah Hill stars as Aaron Green, a gopher for a major music label who has an idea for its owner Sergio, played hilariously by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. Aaron believes that bringing back rock sensation Aldous Snow, played by Russell Brand, to the Greek Theater in LA, for a ten year anniversary show would be huge. Sergio tasks Aaron to go to London and bring back Aldous in the next three days to the Greek, stopping along the way in New York for an appearance on the today show. Despite some tension in Aaron's personal life, involving his girlfriend Daphne, played by Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, who is frequently working at the hospital and was just offered a new dream job in Seattle, Aaron sets out for London.

Upon arriving and meeting up with Aldous, Aaron discovers the true nature of this rock star. Having gone way off the wagon after splitting from his girlfriend Jackie Q, played by Rose Byrne, and coming off of what is considered one of the worst albums of all time, "African Child," Aldous is a big partying mess, and it will become a big series of trial and error if Aaron plans to get Aldous to the Greek on time.

(Aaron is posing as a drug mule for Aldous)
Aaron: I have to sneeze.
Aldous: What?
Aaron: I have to sneeze, but I'm terrified that my bowels will evacuate if I do.
Aldous: If you sneeze it is very important that you clench at the same time.
Generally, a spin-off is based on the popularity of a supporting character who writers/producers believe have enough of a following and enough potential for supporting a whole separate project. I had never heard of Brand before "Sarah Marshall" but I was a big fan of the Aldous Snow character and his persona from what I've seen since. In this film, I don't think his character is a problem. He is still very funny, combining his overbearing partying and sexual nature with a sneaky layer of wit that shows there is much more to him underneath his rock star persona. I am pointing out what's behind his personality, because I honestly believe that if this film played things much darker and dealt with his drug and family problems more head on, this could be a more interesting film. Of course, that's not what anyone would really want to see in an Aldous Snow movie, but that has resulted in my main gripe about this film.

The tone seems very uneven. While there are some great setups for a lot of funny sequences, the film never seems to completely gel or maintain a sense of zip that one would expect in a buddy movie that is also a race against time. Instead, when the characters arrive somewhere, they kind of push the shenanigans to the limit, before they head off to the next set piece, except the shenanigans are never zany enough. With the exception of the sequence in Vegas, where things become both hilarious but strangely out of place with much of the rest of the film, nothing else seems to reach a crazy level.

Now, all that being said, there are a lot of good elements in this film. The character of Aldous Snow is clearly a somewhat satirical figure for the world of rock stars and much of that is conveyed quite well. A lot of entertainment business jokes are delivered throughout, along with a large amount of cameos to play on the image of that life. Hill's character serves as the straighter man of the two, but he manages to be quite funny without being an overbearing loudmouth, as he has been in previous Apatow films (as funny as that can be). The secret star of this show is Combs, who has a way of making all of his lines very funny, as he deals with both raising a family and dealing with his record label through "mind fucking" with the stars. Also nice to see Byrne and Moss shed there dramatic image in favor of cutting a little loose and being involved in a gross out comedy.

In addition, while this film lacks Jason Segal's hilarious songs from his puppet Dracula musical from the former film, he along with some others have written a number of songs for Aldous (as well as Jackie Q) to perform, which are not only quite humorous, but actually well performed (I have in fact become in love with the soundtrack).
(Not in the film, but still funny)
Aldous: I'm a motorist.
I certainly enjoyed this film. It is very funny, even if the lack of urgency to actually get Aldous to the Greek takes away from the zip of this film. And even though the films suffers from a lot of "seen it in the trailer but not the movie"-itis, I can certainly guarantee that DVD for this film will be packed with a lot more hilarity and an extended cut that may either ruin or possibly improve the film's pacing.

Aaron: This is the fastest I've ever run.
Aldous: Sergio's chasing us!
Aaron: This is the longest hallway I've ever been in!
Aldous: It's Kubrikian!
Aaron: Aaaaaaaahhhh!
Sergio: You cannot outrun me. I am black!

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