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.

1 comment:

  1. Funnier than Sarah Marshall? MAY-be ... better? No way.

    Good recap, though!