Get Him to the Greek is raunchy, sexed up, crude, crass, silly, stupid, drug-filled, incredibly gross and, well, sweet.
Is it really a surprise that Judd Apatow produced the film?
If you loved Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and most of you did, then you'll remember the character of Aldous Snow, a snobbed out rock star and the new boyfriend of Sarah. In this film, Snow (a returning Russell Brand) is without Sarah and has just broke up with his beloved Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), who has moved on to bigger and better and bigger and better things while Snow's most recent album has tanked and he's holed up in England having relapsed himself into musical oblivion.
Enter Aaron (Jonah Hill). Aaron is a record company cubicle dweller hand-picked by the company's CEO (Sean Combs) to head to go fetch Snow and get him back in time for an appearance on the "Today" show followed by an anniversary concert at the Greek Theatre.
It's not going to be easy, in case you're wondering.
As rude and crude and socially unacceptable as Get Him to the Greek, it's important to acknowledge that the film works because virtually everyone in the film can actually act.
Yes, Get Him to the Greek has sex and drugs and bodily fluids and crass male-bonding and gross-out situations galore. However, there's a surprising and wonderfully satisfying emotional resonance inside Get Him to the Greek that turns everyone involved in this story, even the outlandish Aldous Snow himself, into someone you genuinely care about by film's end. Amidst all the drugs and sex and rock n'roll, Get Him to the Greek manages, mostly owing to the spot-on performances of Brand and Hill, to illustrate the frequently outlandish world of male bonding.
The relationships in Get Him to the Greek are funny, genuinely funny, but we're laughing with the characters and not at them.
For once, a relationship involving a heavy partner (Hill) and his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss), is not played for laughs. It is a wonderfully real, layered and authentic relationship with a refreshing tenderness and, yet, also all the foibles of everyday relationships and how they can be challenged when circumstances change or betrayal occurs.
The relationship between Snow and Aaron is, if you wade through all the body fluids, a refreshingly honest relationship built on a growing trust over the course of their three-day trip.
There are scenes that perfectly blend richness and humor involving Snow and his father (Colm Meaney), Aaron and his boss, and a host of other supporting players. Whereas so many filmmakers would have allowed these characters and these situations to have become caricatures, writer/director Nicholas Stoller keeps everything feeling remarkably real and truthful even when everything, and I mean everything, going on is utterly absurd.
While the comedy in Get Him to the Greek never quite soars to the heights of The Hangover, it is still a laugh out loud funny film that also manages to satisfy intellectually and emotionally. The film never achieves anything resembling greatness, but it is consistently entertaining and memorable enough to stay with you long after the closing credits.
Russell Brand takes the character he created in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and adds to him his flesh and blood, heart and soul. In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Snow really was supposed to be a caricature. Yet, in order to essentially carry a full-length feature film Snow needed to become fully alive and to transcend his image. Brand may not be picking up this year's Golden Globe for comedy, but his is a performance that embodies both swaggering rock star and vulnerable human. Brand's performance could have gone so wrong, but instead feels completely right.
On the flip side, Hill reins in the lunacy of his recent film roles and proves to be the perfect counter to Brand's larger than life persona. Hill's Aaron is a man who gets sucked into the fast lane, but always seems to be trying really, really hard to make the right choice. In previous films, Hill has always been a touch lacking in range but his work here with both Brand and Moss is rich and grounded. This feels like a performance for Hill where he actually grows as an actor, perhaps opening the door to more complex roles in the future.
Sean Combs is bold and hilarious as the music exec who tries to keep everything in check, while Elisabeth Moss plays the sweet, loyal, wounded and even spiteful girlfriend of Aaron with equal ease.
The film's production quality is fine across the board, with kudos going to Robert Yeoman's off-kilter glitzy production design and for Lyle Workman's original score along with the costume design of Leesa Evans.
Sarah Marshall? She's forgotten. It's Aldous Snow I can't forget.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic