Warning: This review may contain traces of spoilers, and may have come into contact with spoilers from other movies.
I thought Forgetting Sarah Marshall was a terrific comedy, and while Russell Brand’s flamboyant Jack Sparrow-like rock star character Aldous Snow was a highlight of the movie for me, I never thought to myself “I’d watch an entire movie about him!” No matter, because some Hollywood bigwig did, and two years later Get Him to the Greek was released.
Get Him to the Greek follows Aaron Green (Jonah Hill in a different role from his character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), a low-level talent scout for Pinnacle Records and an Aldous Snow fan, as he convinces his boss (P. Diddy) to arrange an anniversary concert for Snow’s best-selling album Live at the Greek Theatre. The record company has lost a lot of money, so Aaron’s boss signs off on the concert and sends Aaron to collect Snow. Unfortunately, Aldous Snow has become a drugged-out has-been since his last record, the atrocious African Child album, flopped spectacularly, and it’s up to Aaron to intercept every intoxicant that Aldous wants to take in order to keep him sober enough to travel to Los Angeles. Will Aaron be able to get him to the Greek? And more importantly, can the comic relief supporting character from one film hold his own in the spotlight?
Get Him to the Greek is a most unusual film. Rather than being a straight-up comedy, closer to what Forgetting Sarah Marshall is, Get Him to the Greek decides to play its material with a more tragic tone to it, and while the jokes are very funny, there’s always a bit of sadness to them. Aldous Snow is the portrait of a fallen rock star, constantly inebriated, apathetic to the opportunity for him to reclaim some of his fame, and always on the prowl for nookie. It’s fun to watch Aaron struggle to keep Aldous in line, but it’s also quite poignant, as it becomes rapidly clear that even though Aldous appears to be having a hedonistic blast, he’s just trying to dull the pain of his failure as a musician and the loss of his love, Jackie Q (Rose Byrne). The balance between the funny stuff and the sad stuff is a good one, though, and the scale never tips too far in either direction. For example, after a particularly depressing monologue from Aldous about how, when you’re on drugs, you no longer have to worry about all of life’s little annoyances – you only have to worry about finding more drugs, the film follows it up by showing Jonah Hill trying to not sneeze, because if he does, he’ll poop out the packet of drugs that Aldous has forced him to stick up his rear.
In case you hadn’t gathered by now, your enjoyment of Get Him to the Greek relies entirely upon how much you enjoy Russell Brand. While Aldous Snow is a fictional character, he really isn’t all that different from Brand himself. At least, not judging by this clip.
This movie is basically two hours of Brand being Brand while Jonah Hill’s mild-mannered Aaron tries to keep him from going too far off the deep end. Even Aldous’ love interest is basically just the female reflection of himself, although Rose Byrne does an amazing job of playing the vulgar diva Jackie Q.
Imagine if Almost Famous was set in the present day, and instead of focusing on a band of up-and-coming rock stars, it focused on a drugged-up has-been, and you’ll get a sense of the kind of movie that Get Him to the Greek is. In fact, both movies even feature a scene where the rock star character takes drugs and jumps off a roof into a swimming pool. But don’t allow that to make you think that Get Him to the Greek is an imitation of Almost Famous – it isn’t. Both films just happen to inhabit the same genre of rock star road movie.
Get Him to the Greek freatures a number of stand-out scenes, one of which takes place after Aaron has gotten Aldous as far as Las Vegas. After Aldous runs into his father (Colm Meaney, whose character feels as though it were actually written for Billy Connolly), he refuses to leave the city. Aaron explains the predicament to his boss, who then flies directly to Vegas to party Aldous into the ground so that they can then get him to L.A. with minimal resistance. At the party, Aaron is handed a “Jeffrey”, a cigarette made from a concoction of basically every drug known to man. Aaron goes nuts, begins petting a wall covered with furry wallpaper, nearly has a heart attack, and then is injected with adrenaline. It’s a pretty amazing, off-the-rails sequence that needs to be seen to be believed, and it leads to a great song at the film’s conclusion about stroking furry walls.
Before I wrap up this review, I should mention that I think it was a clever choice on the part of the filmmakers to focus the film primarily on Jonah Hill’s character of Aaron, because while Aldous is fun, he needs a straight man character to play off of. Aaron may not be a particularly remarkable leading man, but his normality is offset by Aldous’ intensity.
Get Him to the Greek is a pretty funny movie. It has some good laughs, a great supporting cast, and it’s surprisingly heartfelt in a few places. Russell Brand does a great job as Aldous Snow, and I think that any other role he plays will be a pale imitation compared to this one. All in all, it’s an above average comedy that I’d happily watch again, but it didn’t make me laugh as hard as Forgetting Sarah Marshall did.
3.5 out of 5