Get Him To The Greek is a damn funny movie. It may have its flaws, but let me just stress that this movie is damn funny. It’s easily the funniest film of the year so far. It’s also special movie, because it features people, when so many “comedies” are totally content with featuring cardboard cut-outs (see: Sex and the City 2, any post-Knocked Up film starring Katherine Heigl). Jonah Hill proves here that being the ‘every-man’ or ‘straight-man’ doesn’t mean you can’t be funny, and Russell Brand proves that being a ‘jack-hammer sex-athlete’ or ‘hairy-Hare-Krishna-wannabe’ doesn’t mean you can’t act like a real person with feelings.
Nicholas Stoller’s Get Him To The Greek is a sort-of spin-off to his directorial debut Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In that film, screenwriter/star Jason Segal played the cuckolded boyfriend of TV star Sarah Marshall. It turned out that his flame was being ‘cuckolded’ by none other than self-professed rock god Aldous Snow (Brand), a reformed drug addict, and far-from reformed sex addict. Brand reprises his performance as Snow in Get Him To The Greek, although this time around the lead-singer of Infant Sorrow is off the wagon, and his career is in the doldrums following the terribly misguided charity single African Child.
Snow’s supposed soul-mate/singer Jackie Q (Rose Byrne) has left him, and taken their son Naples with her. His father (Colm Meaney) is dismissive of his success, except for when he’s looking for some extra cash. Perhaps the only person in the world who still adores Snow is Aaron Green (Hill), an intern for Pinnacle Records who – it should be noted – has not yet met him. When Pinnacle’s CEO Sergio Roma (Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs) demands some game-changing suggestions to save the music industry (!), Green proposes that Snow head back to the Greek Theatre in L.A. where he recorded one of the all-time highest selling live albums 10 years earlier. Sergio’s sold, and he sends Green to London to safely transport the wildman to his show in Los Angeles. But there’s a catch: he only has 72 hours to do it. Conflict!
Get Him To The Greek is indeed another Judd Apatow produced comedy (the man also produced Sarah Marshall, Superbad, Pineapple Express and he wrote and directed Knocked Up and The Forty Year Old Virgin himself). The once-golden Apatow brand name lost a bit of its glimmer in 2009 following the box office bombing and critical drubbing of his production Year One and his highly-personal directorial effort Funny People. It is telling that GHTTG is the one and only film to bear Apatow’s name in 2010. Although it doesn’t quite reach the giddying heights of the previously mentioned pictures from the Apatow wheelhouse, fans will be glad to know that the film recaptures his raunchy magic and conversational sensibilities.
But Judd Apatow didn’t direct this movie, Nicolas Stoller did. His Forgetting Sarah Marshall, over time, is becoming my favourite film to bear the Apatow label (with the exception of the peerless Superbad). It was so brutal and raw and funny. A breakup movie that can proudly sit beside High Fidelity. Conversely, Get Him To The Greek cannot claim to be amongst the all-time great music comedies. Where Forgetting Sarah Marshall felt delightfully free-formed and unpredictable, GHTTG feels occasionally clumsy. Secondly, the music isn’t all that funny (no, not even The Clap). Finally, although I appreciated the volumes of humanity given to Brand’s Snow, I partly hoped that he would be more like an unstoppable, drug-taking, grog-swilling, lady-killing hurricane. The film isn’t quite the outrageous, anything-goes romp that I anticipated. That’s not to say it isn’t really, really, really funny (see: the first paragraph). I suppose a movie can’t be both a comedy brimming with humanity and also be a brutal satire of the music industry. Get Him To The Greek strives for both, and although it almost achieves greatness, it doesn’t quite make it all the way to 11.
If you are looking for a satire of the music industry, you really can’t go past This Is Spinal Tap or the underrated (and also Apatow-produced) Walk Hard. But if you’re looking for a greatly satisfying (if somewhat flawed) comedy full of rich, lovable performances, look no further. Besides the pitch-perfect comic pairing of Hill and Brand (the oddest and most surprisingly well-matched comedy duo in eons), there is the gut-busting, scene-stealing P. Diddy and a wonderfully warm yet complex performance from Elisabeth Moss, as Aaron’s insistent but not unreasonable girlfriend. Get Him To The Greek is a perfect comic showcase for Brand and Hill with a smorgasbord of hilarious scenarios.
For the music lovers: If Superbad, Knocked Up and Forgetting Sarah Marshall are Radiohead’s The Bends, OK Computer and Kid A, Get Him To The Greek is their Amnesiac. Reminiscent of earlier works, although different enough to not be confused with the others. Occasionally clumsy, but with flashes of brilliance. It also features a sequence that might be the funniest scene in the history of Apatow films (similar to how Amnesiac’s Pyramid Song might be Radiohead’s all-time greatest track). Just keep any eye out for the furry wall.