Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Get Him to the Greek (2010, Nicholas Stoller)

Russell Brand’s dissolute rock god Aldous Snow was one of the highlights of 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and now with an expanded role he’s still pretty damned hilarious. But with the increased screen time has come a need to provide Aldous with a more rounded character, which means that instead of showing up now and then to make humping motions and glower lasciviously, he’s now grappling with daddy issues, relationship woes, and a relapse into drug addiction. Now, the scenes involving Snow’s issues aren’t bad per se. Trouble is, they don’t mesh particularly well with the funny stuff. When Stoller follows an hour or so of binge-drinking and late-night partying with scenes about Aldous learning to face up to his addiction and growing the hell up, it feels like someone laced my candy with vitamins so I wouldn’t feel so bad about gorging on empty calories. I know that we’re all supposed to have positive messages in our Hollywood movies, but when it comes to comedy, everything is forgivable just as long as it’s funny.

That said, Get Him to the Greek does mostly deliver the laughs. It’s not as consistently funny as Forgetting Sarah Marshall was, but the highs are much higher this time out. As the hapless studio flunky assigned to accompany Snow to a special concert, Jonah Hill takes what in other hands could have been a straight-man stick in the mud and makes him just as funny as Snow, albeit in a fussier sort of way. And while I wasn’t quite as taken with Sean Combs’ work as Hill’s vulgar, manipulative boss, I enjoyed the performance all the same, along with the rest of the supporting cast. And few can touch the Apatow team when it comes to great, out-of-nowhere cameos (there are two here, neither of which I’ll spoil for you). But the movie’s success rests primarily in Brand’s shoulders, and he delivers not only in the comedic set pieces but also in the straight scenes and even in the concert sequences. If nothing else, Brand’s performance is even more committed here than in Marshall, and while I’m not sure there’s much more to be done with Aldous, it’s a testament to Brand’s talent that he’s made it this far.

Rating: 6 out of 10.

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