Review: Get Him to the Greek

If the cliché “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” has seemed obscured or irrelevant the last thirty years, it is no longer. “Get Him to the Greek” serves this unholy trinity buffet style. The latest Judd Apatow-produced laugh fest is a spin-off on the character Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) from 2008’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” the licentious rock star with a drug addiction. How else, then, do you make a film about a walking stereotype other than expounding on the stereotypes? “Greek” suggests you roll with it, which is easy enough.

There’s not much of a story here, which limits what this movie can ultimately do, but there’s just enough to get the ball rolling. Jonah Hill stars (in a role different than his “Sarah Marshall” character) as Aaron, an aspiring music producer working for millionaire music mogul (Sean “P.Diddy” Combs), who suggests they throw a 10-year anniversary concert featuring Snow’s band Infant Sorrow at the Greek Theater, a move which could help the label and resurrect the sunken career of his favorite frontman.

He is then charged with the responsibility of personally escorting Mr. Snow from London to the Today Show for a live appearance and performance and then to Los Angeles for the concert. Given Snow’s reputation and bacchanalian tendencies, this task will prove much more difficult than the straight-laced Aaron could ever anticipate.

What follows is the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, but mostly drugs. About every scene involves at minimum the consumption of alcohol. If Aaron is not being tempted into it, he needs it to take the edge off because babysitting Snow is a painstaking endeavor. Producer/director Nicholas Stoller, understanding his film is both literally and figuratively laced with substance abuse, doesn’t treat it like a physical gag that needs building up to like every other film with a clichéd “drug scene.” He uses quick sequences with rapid-fire shots that while seemingly rushed at the time, get the point across without calling any more attention to it than the film already does. This is of course with the exception of the climactic drug scene toward the end when it all hits the fan.

Comedian Brand actually plays Snow with unexpected dignity in this film. Here’s the potential to just go batty and ridiculous, but Brand tastefully realizes that this is part of Snow’s make up; he doesn’t need to externalize it with raucous and stumbling behavior. There’s also a very human element to the story as we learn Snow’s behavior is largely tied to his split from longtime girlfriend and the mother of his children, Jackie Q (Rose Byrne).

Then again, the sentimental aspect weakens “Greek” in terms of its lasting impression. It’s a bit unrealistic to expect that a film basking in loose morals could possibly have morals of its own and convey them with legitimacy. Aaron too has a love sub plot: his long-term girlfriend (“Mad Men’s” Elisabeth Moss) and he get in a fight right before he leaves for London. Stoller admirably hopes to touch the heart as well as the funny bone by keeping these threads going throughout the adventure, but it keeps “Greek” from building into the comedic hurricane its “less plot, more fun” premise suggests (and many fans were likely expecting).

As outrageous as “Get Him to the Greek” behaves at times, it will manage to bring just about anyone with a raunchy sense of humor aboard for its shameless and sinful ride. Even Diddy has his moments in a cast of solid characters whose stories might be weak, but performances reflect the underlying maturity that Apatow films have been known for in spite of the boundary-pushing sex and drugs humor.

3/5 Stars

Get Him to the Greek
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Written by Nicholas Stoller, Jason Segel (characters)
Starring: Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Sean Combs, Elisabeth Moss


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