Rated R for Strong Sexual Content and Drug Use Through Out, and Pervasive Language
Starring: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Sean Combs, Rose Byrne
Writer/Director: Nicholas Stoller
Running Time: 109 Minutes
I love being surprised, and for a man who watches movies as much as I do, that is a little hard to come by. With enough films under your belt, you begin to be able to tell when a movie is going to be good or bad based on little information. Back in March, I posted the red band trailer for Get Him to the Greek and although I was attempting to remain an optimist, I was fully expecting this movie to suck. This movie is one of these rare surprises; Get Him to the Greek is a great movie with some excellent performances and absolutely hilarious moments, far more than I expected there to be.
Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) works for a major record label in Los Angeles run by mogul Sergio (Sean Combs). The label has been losing money, and Sergio is trying to get some ideas from his workers to drive up revenue. After some failed ideas, Sergio calls on Aaron, who suggests holding an Infant Sorrow concert on the ten year anniversary of their landmark performance at the Greek Theater in L.A. Sergio is initally resistant, but relents and charges Aaron with going to London and bringing Infant Sorrow front man Aldous Snow (Russell Brand, reprising his role from Forgetting Sarah Marshall) first to New York for a performance on the Today Show then back to L.A. for the concert. The catch? He only has three days to do this.
Aaron is psyched for this; not only is it his dream to hang out with Snow since he is a big Infant Sorrow fan, but it’s his chance to get away from his mundane life with nurse girlfriend Daphne (Elizabeth Moss), who’d rather stay in and watch Gossip Girl than party. However, this task is not as easy as Aaron thinks it’ll be. In the past few years, Snow has fallen off the sobriety wagon and has become a self-destructive shell of his former self, doing drugs and pining for his ex-girlfriend, the singer Jackie Q (Rose Byrne) who is now shacking up with Lars Ulrich (Himself). Aaron is now tasked with not only bringing Snow to the Greek on time, but with babysitting him and keeping him from ruining everything.
Get Him to the Greek is essentially two movies; first, it is the vulgar comedy you were expecting with some hilarious jokes and scenes. Jonah Hill and Russell Brand not only have a handle on their characters, but have tremendous chemistry together and their dynamic results in both hilarious and surprisingly touching moments. Hill is more the straight man of the two, but he gets just as many laughs as Brand does, who has amped up the ridiculous of the Aldous Snow character to 11. The biggest surprise of the whole movie is Sean Combs. Say what you will about his accomplishments in the music business, but this guy has some comedic chops to him. Sergio is a hot headed and vulgar man and he really breaks out in this movie. The whole scene in Las Vegas, featuring Hill, Brand, and Combs getting high off a drug concoction known as a “Jeffery” is possibly the funniest ten minutes I have seen this year. Combs especially steals this whole scene, and the picture above is just part of the madness. I never thought I’d say this, but I want to see Sean Combs in more comedies, this guy has some good potential.
Get Him to the Greek, like with many comedies Judd Apatow attaches his name to, also has a darker serious side to it. The character of Aldous Snow is haunted; he has incredible daddy issues as well as usual musician quirks (which seem to be a commentary on musicians, but I don’t watch movies for sub-text) and even though he can be a real asshole, he is ultimately a tragic figure. He is at his core an unhappy and self-destructive person, and Russell Brand nails this out of the park. I didn’t expect to actually be interested in the Aldous Snow character, but there are some real legitimate layers to it and Brand not only delivers on the funny, he manages to also nail the more dramatic scenes. All my skepticism is lost; Brand may be a one note character, but he does it so well. I doubt he’ll ever really play anything other than Aldous Snow-types, but I think if that kind of character is the basis for a more serious movie, he could do it and do it well.
Sadly, the drama side of Get Him to the Greek also happens to be its downfall. The tonal shifts make it feel like a movie that wants to be too much. People want a straight up comedy, and adding drama is fine, but it goes on for a little too long and takes a little air out of the movie’s sails. If they had cut down more of the drama side and stuck more with the comedy, Get Him to the Greek would have worked much better.
Also, some of the humor doesn’t seem to work and there are a couple of running gags (involving Daphne’s obsession with sleep and other things I can’t remember which isn’t a good sign) that just fail time and time again. The editing of the film is also a little suspect; some of the scenes go on for far too long as the characters riff on each other and tell jokes back to back. The scene when Sergio gives Aaron the assignment feels three minutes too long, as they just barb back and forth. It’s funny and everything, but it didn’t need to keep going for as long as it did.
Gripes aside, I was pleasantly surprised by Get Him to the Greek. Considering it was a spin-off to a movie that didn’t need one whatsoever, it manages to have its own identity and add layers to a one note joke character that makes him more human and more three dimensional. The excellent performances by Hill and Brand, and a breakout role for Combs, keep the movie afloat even when it delves too far into the dramatic territory. Get Him to the Greek is a movie worth your attention.