Saturday, June 19, 2010
Get Him To The Greek
I was just inspired to start this blog today, so I cannot say that I am writing this particular review the minute I got back from the theater in fact, I saw it a few days ago now, so I've had time to ponder it over.
Get Him To The Greek follows a very successful and now, very tried formula of a Judd Apatow production. For those of you who don't know what I mean by that, I will try to explain what I know of it. Judd Apatow seems to have collected a group of young, talented American comedians and trained them to make good movies. It's as if he is an American Fagin, Seth Rogen is Oliver Twist and Jason Segel is The Artful Dodger. I remember hearing a radio interview once in which Apatow was described to "force" a young Seth Rogen and others to come up with 100 good ideas for comedy films. This is how the concept for his biggest success, Superbad came into being when Seth Rogen wrote it and was young enough to play the part Jonah Hill made (im)famous instead of the dopey cop. These ideas go onto a shelf and they simply seem to wait for the right time, like good wine. What this all wraps up to mean is that they are now undeniably some of the most interesting people in American comedy currently.
Get Him To The Greek is at times vulgar, racist, sexist, gross out and childish. Yet it finds a way to mix all those elements into (at times) extremely sophisticated humor. The Apatow crew shies away from slapstick and screwball, and the antics of the characters, in this one particularly, Russell Brand's tragic rock star Aldous Snow are surprisingly human. As far as storyline, those same elements manage to rise above immaturity, by applying themselves to modern culture with uncanny ability. These comedic writers are extremely savvy at tackling modern issues such as accidental cell phone pocket-dialing and Biggest Loser. Also, thanks to their success, Apatow and crew were able to flex their influence muscles to get cameos from many a real celebrity in order to give a current feel to the film.
For those of you wondering, it's an indirect sequel to the hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Russell Brand again takes up the reigns of his character Aldous Snow, while Jonah Hill plays a completely new character. The chemistry between these two make the movie fun. They obviously had a good time making it, and Jonah Hill makes us believe him as Aaron, the fan who gets to meet the fame. Surprisingly enough though, Puff Daddy (Sean Combs, P. Diddy, etc.) actually makes the movie in the part of psychotic music producer Sergio. While he admittedly plays an undisguised parody of himself he tackles the role with finesse, and his joke deliveries are unarguably the best in the film.
Unlike its predecessor Sarah Marshall, the movie has surprisingly darker undertones. As a wise woman once described the Oscar Wilde comedy An Ideal Husband, in comparison to The Importance of Being Earnest, the latter is just desserts, while the former is the main dish, it's got some protein to it. Greek is like the former. The two main characters, while funny, are not very likable people when you break them down. Aaron is sloppy and doesn't know how to handle a relationship, and Snow is a wrecked, egotistical rock star. The only really likable character is Aaron's girlfriend Daphne, played by Elisabeth Moss and she is undeniably vilified. While the movie is about Aaron's often futile efforts to get Snow to a concert in Los Angeles in two days, the movie is really about what fame does to people; how it can wreck their lives, make them sad, addicted to drugs, or simply unwilling to let anyone in. By the end of the movie, you feel sorry for Brand's Aldous, who instead of seeming like a handsome rake who has it all, turns out to be lonely, looking for love and estranged from his family (Excellent Irish actor Colm Meaney makes a great cameo as Russell's detached father.)
Their commitment to telling the story of Aldous Snow provides the movie with it's frequent slow bits. The jokes do not fire fast and funny the same way Superbad and Sarah Marshall did. However, what the strong cast does bring the table is frequently hilarious and you will leave the theater having exercised your laughing muscles. It's an enjoyably intelligent look at the way we idolize celebrities and then how those idols who are still people survive the worship. As Bill Murray once said, "If you want to be rich and famous, try just being rich first." and as Sergio comments, "These British rock stars never die! Look at Ozzie Ozbourne! He's gonna outlive Miley Cyrus." Perhaps the new fad of dying if you're a celebrity is what prompted Apatow to pull this script off the shelf. However, it is a comedy so there's a happy ending. Not to worry.