Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"The Karate Kid"

The Karate Kid - Directed by Harald Zwart, written by Christopher Murphey, based on a story by Robert Mark Kamen, starring Jaden Smith, Jackie Chan, and Taraji P. Henson - Rated PG

This isn't awful, but I'd rather watch Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, and Martin Kove.

I’ll admit, I planned on holding out until DVD to watch The Karate Kid, but my niece wanted to watch it and I can’t tell my niece “no” if she wants to watch a movie. So I watched it…and it’s not all that bad. Make no mistakes, though, if you watch The Karate Kid, you should watch the one from the 80s. However, there are certainly worse movies to watch in theatres right now.

If you’re unfamiliar with the 80s classic (yes, I called it a classic), the story hasn’t changed all that much. A bullied teen, Dre (Jaden Smith) takes up martial arts to combat his oppressors and, along the way, win the hand of a young lady. The main difference here is that there is no karate and it all takes place in China. I don’t think I’m nitpicking when I say that this film should have gone with the title, “The Kung Fu Kid.” Maybe you lose the nostalgia audience, but really, is it asking much to be factual?

The Karate Kid surprised me a bit. I was expecting a light hearted film filled with throwbacks to the original. What I got was a lengthy (I’ll get to that in a minute), sometimes too serious film about bullying and the beauty of China.

I’ll deal with the beauty of China first. I couldn’t help but notice that this film was made in conjunction with the China Film Group. When I saw that credit, I wondered what it meant…but while watching the film I knew exactly what that meant: I was watching a promotional video for Chinese tourism. Seriously, this movie marvels in its Chinese locales. The Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the new Olympic stadium, you name it, it’s in there. There are countless shots of buildings under development and pristine parks and living conditions for all. Why don’t more people move to, or at least visit, China? Maybe you will after seeing this film.

Maybe I’m being unfair because every time a Hollywood movie is made in a foreign country you get the shots of all the major spots. You also get the crappy spots, too, though. Take The Karate Kid, Part 2 for example. It took place in Japan, but it didn’t focus on the glory of Tokyo. A lot of it showed the bleak life of the poorer community. Everyone seems okay and happy in this film’s version of China and it felt fake to me.

The China aspect is looking a bit too far into it, but it stuck out to me. Something on the surface of the film that stood out to me, though, is Jackie Chan. I must admit that he was a great choice for the Pat Morita character (called Mr. Han in this film). I enjoyed every scene he was in; it’s just too bad that the film took so long to bring him in. Chan isn’t all about the stunts in this one, though he does get a very enjoyable fight scene early on. I must admit, there’s something entertaining about watching Jackie Chan fight a group of kids. Anyway, he played the somewhat grizzled teacher very well and because of him, I lean on the positive side (just barely) for this film.

I can’t say the same for Jaden Smith. I know he’s young and just starting out, but he needs to wait a few years before he takes up acting full time. I can see some of the charisma of his father (Will Smith, who is credited as a producer on the film) here and there, but overall he gave a weak performance. I just don’t buy him as an angst-ridden teen. He tells his mom (the enjoyable Taraji P. Henson) that he hates China and is miserable, but I just don’t believe him. He seems robotic, much like he was in the The Day the Earth Stood Still remake. I see a future for him, though.

Let me get to the film’s major fault: length. This film is 140 minutes long. That is absolutely ridiculous for a film like this. It would be one thing if there was an epic story to tell, but let’s face it, even the original Karate Kid storyline was simplistic at best. It would be insanely easy to fix the problem, too. For instance, we get multiple examples of Dre being bullied. All it takes is a couple of scenes to set that up. You could also scrap a few touristy segments (though I bet the China Film Group would have taken issue with that). The tournament segment at the end could’ve been trimmed. The training scenes, which were less entertaining than they should have been, could have been cut down as well. I’m no editor, but I think I could get this movie down to 100 minutes and you wouldn’t miss out on much.

The tournament could have been shorter, but the director, Harald Zwart, did use some interesting techniques for the fight scenes. He incorporated some old-school kung fu movie zooms that I found amusing and overall the fights were enjoyable.

What The Karate Kid really disappointed me with, though, was the tone. As I said earlier, it was deadly serious at times, but I was actually hoping for a lot of cheesy callbacks to the original. I wanted an 80s style training montage. I wanted to hear Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best” playing at some point, even it was only on a stereo somewhere. I wanted a ridiculously evil sensei along the lines of John Kreese. I wanted a preppy blonde kid to be Dre’s main rival, instead a preppy blonde kid is the first friend he makes in China. This film just isn’t a callback to the original, though, so I guess that’s okay. You can’t fault a remake for trying to be its own film.

All of this makes me realize that I would be better off just watching the original again. I won’t tell people to avoid this film, but I will tell everyone to watch the real Karate Kid again, just for old times’ sake. For now, this “kung fu” kid will entertain, but it’s just not the same, for better or worse.

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Grown Ups"

Grown Ups - Directed by Dennis Dugan, written by Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf, starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, David Spade, and Chris Rock - Rated PG-13

Grown Ups is simply boring and forgettable.

Adam Sandler has been a comedic favorite of mine since I was in grade school. I loved his comedy albums and his early movies like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. I guess you could say I grew up enjoying Adam Sandler’s comedy. It’s unfortunate, but now I think my sense of humor has grown up past Sandler’s. Or more accurately, his sense of humor has lost its edge.

On paper, Grown Ups sounds like a sure thing. It has Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, David Spade, and a number of cameos. If all of these guys are in it, it has to be funny, right? Well…yes and no, mainly no.

Grown Ups can best be described as a family comedy (if the youngest child in your family is around 9-10, that is) and that was part of the problem for me. I’m not a family comedy kind of guy. I don’t recall enjoying the more innocent comedies even when I was young enough to be considered “innocent.” They’re just not my thing. If your idea of comedy involves playful (translation: bland) jabs between spouses and old friends, then you’ll probably like this one.

I call the jabs bland because it all seemed so forced. I thought, if anything, this film would realistically represent what a group of old friends could be like. For one thing, most of these guys actually are old friends in real life, but they couldn’t get that across onscreen, though. Instead, we get a group of guys playing it safe. What’s worse, they laugh at their own jokes, creating a strange kind of laugh track for the audience. There’s nothing worse for a comedy than a character laughing way too hard at a weak joke, trying to trick the audience into believing that they’ve just witnessed comedy. All that forced laughter just accentuates how unfunny it all is.

Grown Ups just isn’t all that funny. I want that to be clear before I point out a few positive comedic elements. Make no mistake, though, this film is a disappointment. It’s really hard not to laugh at least a few times during a comedy and this film did have a moment or two. The biggest laughs this film got out of me came from the supporting cast. I’m a sucker for a good cameo and this film has plenty of regulars from the Sandler movie universe. My personal favorite was Steve Buscemi. I don’t want to go into too many details because a good cameo is a bit of a surprise. Just know that if you watched SNL during Sandler’s time and you’ve seen his other films, a few familiar faces will crop up.

The fact that my favorite moments were cameos is a big problem. The main cast, who have all starred in their own comedies, should be the ones bringing the big laughs. The only one that I found consistently funny was Kevin James. This is strange because I’m not much of a Kevin James fan (the popularity of Paul Blart will forever confuse me). I enjoy a self-deprecating heavyset guy, though, and James is perfect for the part. He takes the fat jokes very well, and then he’s willing to dance around with an empty chicken bucket on his head.

Kevin James’ character is one note, just like the rest of the stars of the film, but his note was funny to me. It’s quite possible that someone may find Rock funny as the stay at home husband, or Spade as the single, aging ladies man, or Schneider as the new age idiot with the older wife. It all comes down to taste.

Sandler’s character is the only one that didn’t seem one note to me. He’s a successful (agent, producer, I couldn’t really tell) Hollywood man who has lapsed in the parenting department, leaving the job to a nanny. (His explanation for having a nanny around all the guys provided a few laughs for me.) He tries to set things right by forcing his kids to abandon technology for some old fashioned outdoor fun and this is where the film works. When Sandler looks around and sees what is happening to his family and friends, the film shows a pulse. It’s just a shame that the film didn’t focus more on that. If this film had been a comedy that took life and how things change over time a bit more seriously, then I am sure the laughs would be genuine and the movie itself would have had a lasting effect on me.

As it stands, though, this film focused more on some really clichéd and goofy comedic elements like a bad toupee, a farting grandma, a muscleman with a high pitched voice, etc. There was so much potential here, though. It’s a shame they went goofy and lame with it. But then again, I have a darker, more cynical sense of humor. If you like your humor extremely light (so light it’s almost nonexistent at times), then you may enjoy this one.

"Knight and Day"

Knight and Day - Directed by James Mangold, written by Patrick O'Neill, starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz - Rated PG-13

The Kurgan likes a slightly crazy Tom Cruise.

It seems like every time a Tom Cruise movie comes out these days, he gets all the focus. There’s a reason for that: the guy is entertaining. People have calmed down about his religion and personal life lately, but every film is still treated as if it’s part of some comeback or something. In fact, it seems like people just cannot get past the idea of Tom Cruise; they don’t see a character on the screen, they see a movie star. That’s a problem because you can’t really enjoy a movie if you don’t buy into the world the film creates. With that, I can give a one sentence review if you’d like to stop reading after this paragraph (please keep reading, though): if you like Tom Cruise, you’ll like Knight and Day.

Knight and Day is a very fun action-comedy that revels in Tom Cruise’s crazier side. Cruise plays Roy Miller, a superspy gone rogue with a powerful item, who seemingly bumps into June Havens (Cameron Diaz) at the airport, setting off an action-packed chain of events. The setup, spy/professional killer teamed up with unbeknownst/unwilling female counterpart, is not all that original. In fact, it doesn’t seem all that different from a film still in theatres: Killers. (I can’t compare the two films, though, because I did not see Killers.)

This film has something going for it that makes it stand out, however. That something is Tom Cruise. He plays the part the same way he played characters in the late 80s and early 90s. He’s playful, a little crazy, and completely confident in his every action. The craziness was the most important part for me because it really created the comedy of the film. I can’t help but laugh when Cruise, who has pulled a gun in a diner, kicks a waiter to the ground, only to inform the restaurant’s patrons that he only did it because he “thought [the waiter] was making a move.” It’s hilarious to me that he would feel the need to explain himself and then say it so casually. That’s the true comedy of the film: Tom Cruise saying ridiculous things in a matter-of-fact tone. The confidence Cruise exudes in character translates through the screen and it made me completely believe that Roy Miller could actually survive all of the ridiculous situations he becomes a part of.

Those ridiculous situations, such as taking out bad guys as he hangs on to the hood of a speeding car, keep the film constantly entertaining. The movie doesn’t start off with a bang or anything, though. In fact, if you didn’t know any better, the first fifteen minutes of the movie would probably have you convinced that you were watching a romantic comedy. But when the action starts, it sets the movie off on a breakneck pace that rarely slows down, and that’s a good thing.

A movie like Knight and Day needs to keep things moving because it won’t do to have the audience thinking very hard about the film. Not that the story isn’t compelling, it’s just that the film has a light hearted tone when it comes to violent action. People are being killed throughout the film, but it’s never taken very seriously. If the film slows down and we have to look at the dead bodies, then the tone gets much darker.

The film needs to keep things moving so you don’t analyze the action scenes, as well. Knight and Day features some extremely over the top action. I was fine with the majority of it (a scene featuring bulls was a bit too much) and it was constantly entertaining. But if the action was glorified with slow motion or taken too seriously then I would have been scoffing at the screen the whole time. The point is, don’t go into the film expecting any kind of reality.

The action isn’t treated as high art or anything, but director James Mangold does a fine job with it. These days, it’s very important for an action director to film action scenes in which you can tell what’s going on. Sometimes things can get too shaky and the cuts can come so quickly that you can’t tell what’s going on. That is not the case with Knight and Day. The action scenes were very clear and usually quite inventive. I particularly liked how Mangold handled a few hazy sequences that a character sleeps through. The first person point of view aspect of those scenes led to some very funny visual jokes as the character wakes from one crazy situation to another.

Which brings me back to the comedy of the film. I can’t stress enough that this film tries and succeeds at being funny. Most of it is thanks to Cruise, but Cameron Diaz holds her own as well. Her freak-outs are quite funny throughout the film.

The only downside to Knight and Day is the misuse of a strong supporting cast. Peter Sarsgaard is utterly wasted as a rival agent. The character is completely bland. I like that Sarsgaard is getting some higher profile roles, but I want to see him play a character with a pulse. Paul Dano is also wasted on a one-note character. And Viola Davis and Jordi Mollá are fine actors, but have little to do here.

I can forgive Knight and Day for misusing a few good actors, though, because the film stands up just fine with Cruise and Diaz. Maybe Tom Cruise is actually just playing “Tom Cruise,” but as long as it is fun to watch, who cares?

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Splice - Directed by Vincenzo Natali, written by Vincenzo Natali, Antoinette Terry Bryant, and Doug Taylor, starring Adrien Brody, Sarah Polley, and Daphine Chanéac - Rated R

The Kurgan likes a good creature movie, especially one that goes as far as this one did.

It’s not too often when a movie literally makes my jaw drop. Splice did, which may or may not be a good thing, but it’s certainly a reaction. When you watch as many movies as I do, it gets harder and harder to be shocked by a film. For that reason alone, I think this film deserves some notice. It’s the atmosphere and story that make it a completely entertaining and disturbing film.

Of course, I’m not going to write what I found so shocking about the film. If you want to know: go watch it. Just know that it wasn’t a gory or violent scene that did it. I just couldn’t believe what a character was doing. I think you’ll know what I’m talking about if you watch it. Though you better hurry; I doubt it’ll be in theatres much longer because of the disappointing box office it’s done.

Splice is about a couple of scientists, Clive and Elsa (Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley), who have created a new organism by “splicing” DNA together from multiple animals. What they made is a slug type creature that can potentially produce a protein for new medicine. This is kind of weird (and the slug creatures are definitely gross), but it is not enough for Clive and Elsa. They want to throw some human DNA into the mix for more important results. They’re forbidden to do it, but they do anyway and that’s where the creature from the poster comes into play.

The creature, Dren, has just enough human features to make it very creepy. But Dren is not a monster. This may disappoint a few people. The previews make this film look like a borderline slasher-film with Dren hanging from the ceiling and killing everything in sight. I can’t stress enough that this is not the case. There is violence, to be sure, but it’s not rampant.

Splice is mainly about how Clive and Elsa have to deal with raising Dren. They have to stash Dren away and look after her/it since they’ve created her illegally. I saw the film as a sci-fi family drama. Elsa has some maternal issues (she shies away from pregnancy conversations), yet she instantly seems protective of Dren. Clive, on the other hand, wants children, but doesn’t seem too hot about the idea of raising an experiment.

This is where you can start to question the film. You may wonder what kind of scientists could be so reckless and borderline stupid while also being brilliant. If you have questions like that, I have a name for you: Dr. Frankenstein. (Clive and Elsa are parts of the actors’ names from Bride of Frankenstein.) “Splice” is the classic tale of science run amok. That may make it a bit unoriginal plot-wise, but the questions it raises for the characters make it fresh. For instance, I found the dynamic of Elsa trying out motherhood to be just as interesting as the creature itself.

The creature will most likely be the most important aspect for many people, though. I wrote above that Dren is not a monster and I stand by that. This doesn’t mean that Dren is cute and cuddly, however. In general, Dren gets creepier with age. The thing is, she looks more and more human as she ages. The added resemblance to a regular human actually showcases the differences in Dren and make her that much more disturbing. The tail, strange hind legs, and four-fingered hand are definitely out there, but Dren’s eyes are what haunted me throughout the film. It may be a different aspect for each viewer, but I think the majority will be at least a little creeped out by the design of Dren.

The creature design sets up the overall atmosphere of Splice. This film isn’t necessarily the most visually striking film around, but there are subtle elements that add to the tension of the film. I’m a fan of the extremely slow zoom and a well placed overhead shot and this film has both. Plus, the production design of the lab and the farmhouse created a nice sense of foreboding.

In a film that showcases a creature, the actors sometime take a backseat. That’s not necessarily true, here. Brody and Polley don’t carry the film or anything, but they do a fine job and they are very convincing throughout.

The dilemma for the main characters is the most interesting aspect of the film. You see them question themselves and each other and it is all very compelling. Is Dren a part of their family or just an experiment? What is the motivation behind the experiment? Is Dren an abomination against nature? And so on and so on. Those issues kept me interested throughout the entire running time. Others may be bored by the lack of horror-type action.

Splice may not have enough creature elements for some, but it does feature some humor, which is arguably intentional. Whenever a movie features an absolute splash of blood that hits a group of people, I find it funny. I may be strange, but I laughed multiple times during the film while I also took the film quite seriously. With some of the situations these characters end up in, you almost have to laugh, even if it’s just because you’re unsure of what your response should be. On an almost side note, there is one element that I think was intentionally comedic and a statement on a filmmaking trope. Near the beginning of the film, a montage begins in which Clive and Elsa try to splice the new creature. Borderline generic techno music blasts during the scene until Clive comments that the “industrial” music is hampering his thought process and he turns it off. I love it when a song seemingly begins as non-diegetic, only to have a character acknowledge the music and turn it off or change it. This slightly breaks the fourth wall and may take people out of the movie a bit, but I always enjoy stuff like that. This example is proof that director Vincenzo Natali was not out to make a completely serious film.

I definitely recommend Splice, but I have to reiterate that it features some disturbing elements; disturbing on a character level, rather than a gross-out level…well, maybe a little on the gross-out side. I think it’s the mentally disturbing elements that will stick with you the longest, though.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"The A-Team"

The A-Team - Directed by Joe Carnahan, written by Joe Carnahan, Brian Bloom, and Skip Woods, starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Quentin "Rampage" Jackson, Sharlto Copley, and Jessica Biel - Rated PG-13

The Kurgan laughed right along with the A-Team through each crazy action scene.

The original “A-Team” TV show was a bit before my time, so I only know of the group of renegade commandos from the occasional rerun, but more so from the parodies of the show (an episode of “Family Guy” comes to mind). I’m pretty sure I’m the key demographic for this film, then, because the film gets so ridiculous at times that you might think it actually is making fun of the old show. This is not a bad thing. It just means that The A-Team is aware of what it should be: a crazy, fun action movie.

If you’re a fan of the old show, however, you needn’t be worried. There are plenty of references to the show to enjoy, including catch phrases, a certain member’s fear of flying, and an iconic van.

The A-Team is basically an origin story for the team. The beginning of the film shows how the four leads meet. Then it cuts to eight years later in Iraq, where the team has been very successful in covert operations. Then, just like the intro lines from the TV show state, the team is framed and sent to military prison, only to escape soon after. I’m not going to get into the whats and the whys of the story because…who cares? Stuff gets blown up and that’s all I need.

I also need some entertaining characters and this film comes through in a big way. There’s Hannibal (Liam Neeson), Face (Bradley Cooper), B.A. Baracus (Quentin “Rampage” Jackson), and Murdock (Sharlto Copley of District 9 fame). They are all very much one note characters: Hannibal puts the plans together and leads the group, Face is the reckless ladies’ man, B.A. is the tough guy, and Murdock is the crazy pilot. They all work together well and, most importantly, the actors truly seem to be having fun.

The fun factor is really important here because the action is so ridiculous. In case you haven’t seen the preview, let me summarize one particular sequence. The team steals a transport plane that is holding a tank. They get blown out of the sky, but they took shelter in the tank, which is parachuting to the ground. As they fall through the sky, Face opens up the hatch and mans a machine gun and shoots down the drone that shot the original plane down. And, believe it or not, it gets even more ridiculous after that, but you get the idea. What makes this scene okay is the fact that the characters realize how crazy the situation is. They are laughing the whole time and cracking jokes. The scene would be stupid if it was played with complete seriousness.

The actors truly seem to have such chemistry together that this film almost feels like a sequel. I was okay with most of the casting, though I thought Quentin “Rampage” Jackson was a bit too cheesy at times. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I though Sharlto Copley was great as Murdock. I really enjoyed his erratic performance. Neeson and Cooper were definitely well-suited in their roles, as well.

The supporting cast doesn’t have much to do, except for Patrick Wilson, who is very amusing as the smug CIA agent, Lynch. Jessica Biel is kind of sleepwalking through the love interest role, though all that’s asked of her is to stand around and look good, which she does well.

The actors make the movie fun and all, but this is still a film that lives and dies by its action set pieces. Aside from some frenetic, Tony Scott-type editing in the beginning (Scott served as a producer on the film), the action is shot well. As stated already, the action is over the top, but it looks good and there a number of impressive sequences. And, of course, all kinds of stuff blows up. The A-Team is a movie that literally shoots off fireworks at one point, and that’s fine with me. The only downside is that the final set piece relied a bit too much on CG effects, but it’s still quite awesome.

The A-Team is a film that shouldn’t be taken too seriously, mainly because it doesn’t take itself seriously. Just because the film is ridiculous and self-aware doesn’t mean it’s without faults, though. The film does get serious a couple times and it seems unnatural. The most notably instance of this is the subplot in which B.A. turns nonviolent, which might be the most ridiculous and cheesy part of the film, and that’s saying something. Plus, the story, dealing with CIA intrigue and stolen currency plates, is weak. These things are easily forgiven though due to the fun factor.

The A-Team is a great popcorn movie. I’m sure some people out there could sit through it and scoff and pick it apart. If that’s fun to you, then have at it; you shouldn’t have too much trouble degrading this film. If you prefer your fun in the way of crazy action, then check out The A-Team and laugh along with the crew as they go from one outrageous action scene to the next.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Get Him to the Greek"

Get Him to the Greek - Written and directed by Nicholas Stoller, starring Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Rose Byrne, and Sean Combs - Rated R

The Kurgan likes to party like a rock star.

Get Him to the Greek
is a strange film. First off, it’s a spin-off from 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. That’s not that odd except that Jonah Hill, who played a waiter who was an over-eager fan of Russell Brand’s rock star Aldous Snow, is also in this film…as a different character. This film is a bit different (and funnier) than Sarah Marshall so I’ll forgive it that initial confusing aspect.

Greek is all about the rock star lifestyle. Aaron Green (Hill’s new character) comes up with the idea of having Aldous Snow put on an anniversary concert at the Greek Theatre in L.A. The only problem is that Aldous has fallen from grace a bit and he has a serious drug problem. So Aaron has to escort/babysit a rock star from England to L.A. Hijinks ensue, of course.

The plot isn’t all that original (it’s very much like 1982’s My Favorite Year), but this film isn’t about the story. In fact, the weakest moments of this film are when it tries to have a point. Anytime Aaron tried to get serious with Aldous and talk about life choices and whatnot, I got bored. I just didn’t feel like the movie earned any of these moments. The serious scenes seemed very out of place to me. But that actually works in the film’s favor a bit.

The uneven tone of the film mirrors the rock star life it’s attempting to showcase. While the inconsistent tone may not be intentional, it still added to the film. The partying scenes are all over the place, just like the film itself. The serious scenes could be a bit boring and unnecessary, but they just made the funny scenes seem that much better.

Enough with the serious, anyway, this is a comedy after all. So is Greek funny? Absolutely. The focus on the rock star life has been done time and time again, but this film takes a weird approach with it. I’m not saying that the approach itself is weird; I’m saying that they focus on the weird. I’m a fan of absurd comedy. So a scene in which all the main characters are high on a “Jeffrey,” rubbing a furry wall to stay sane while a knock down drag out fight ensues had me laughing uncontrollably. If that scene just sounds stupid to you, then you may want to skip this one. If you want to know more about a “Jeffrey” after reading that, then check this movie out.

The style of the comedy feels very much like improv. It seemed like the actors were allowed to do multiple takes of each scene and just see what worked. Maybe that's the case, maybe not (Nicholas Stoller is the only credited screenwriter, though). In any case, I thought many of the funny scenes played out like that because whenever an actual plot point came up, the actors seemed to be playing slightly different characters. It was as if they were allowed to ham it up and go for it, then they were reeled in for the "real" scene. Normally, that would bother me, but the nonsensical scenes were funny enough to excuse it. This film is filled with non sequiturs and I love it. At one point the characters are running down a lengthy hallway and Brand yells out that the long hallway is "Kubrickian." A Kubrick joke? Awesome.

Greek has the rock star craziness down, but whether or not it has a rock star is up for debate. I’m not the biggest Russell Brand fan out there (and many people I talk to are either unaware of who he is or flat out hate him), but I think he’s great in this. He just seems like a cocky rock star. Brand is perfectly condescending and charming at the same time. You want to hate his character but there’s a little something there to make him redeeming.

Jonah Hill is funny as well. He handles the straight man aspects of the role convincingly, but when he gets to freak out he shines. Rose Byrne was great as Jackie Q, Aldous’s oversexed pop star ex-girlfriend. If anything, it’s just funny to see her act that crazy because she usually plays very normal characters. There are some interesting cameos in the film as well. My favorites were Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter) and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. I actually think Ulrich is a complete tool, but his appearance in the film was funny. All of these actors and more are fine, but they have the show stolen from them by Sean Combs (aka P. Diddy).

Combs plays Sergio, Aaron’s vulgar record executive boss. His multiple rant scenes were all funny, but the part he plays in the “furry wall” scene still makes me laugh when I think about it. I would go so far as to say that Sean Combs alone makes this movie worth watching. I know some people have apprehensions about rappers transitioning into acting, but those people need to leave that mentality at the door and just sit back and enjoy Puff Daddy in this, because it turns out that he’s very, very funny.

Sean Combs was not the only surprise I got from this film. I know the movie is about a rock star, but I didn’t expect anything music-wise. I was pleasantly surprised to honestly enjoy most of the original songs in the film and it turns out that Brand can sing a bit.

Get Him to the Greek has some slight issues but the crazy partying sequences, the funny and genuinely good music, and Sean Combs definitely overshadow any of the weaker, more serious moments in the film. Just remember, though, this movie is funny, but it’s weird funny. If you go in expecting a Ben Stiller-type comedy then you’ll walk out sorely disappointed. If you go in expecting a movie in which P. Diddy says he wants to cover his house in fur so that it looks like a “werewolf,” then you’ll probably like this movie as much as me. But then again, I’m weird.