Get Him to the Greek Review
Following in the footsteps of such comedic spin-offs as A Shot in the Dark and, er, Evan Almighty, Get Him to the Greek reprises the character of Aldous Snow, the egotistical English rock star played by comedian Russell Brand who originally featured in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The earlier film was an enjoyable if undistinguished comedy that succeeded thanks to a sympathetic lead performance from writer-star Jason Segel. Aldous Snow functioned there as a plot device to drive apart Segel’s character from his girlfriend, Sarah (Kristen Bell). Now Brand is the star; Segel is entirely absent, while Bell re-appears in a blink-or-you'll-miss-it cameo.
The inherent danger with any spin-off is taking a supporting character that worked well enough for its original purpose, and promoting them to the lead role where their lack of depth becomes all too obvious. So we are introduced to Snow’s longtime, now ex, popstar girlfriend (Rose Byrne), with whom he has a child; and his own family, including a spaced-out brother, nitwit mother and runaway musician father (Colm Meaney). Snow is washed-up after his last album flopped a few years earlier. But his luck changes when a record company intern (Jonah Hill) decides that Snow is the act that will turn his company’s fortunes around. Hill must ensure Snow makes it to the Greek Theater in L.A. sober and in one piece to play a sold-out anniversary concert.
The role of Snow is very much tailored to Brand’s particular brand (sorry) of comedy, to the point that some lines feel like they were improvised by him on the spot. As such, your enjoyment of Get Him to the Greek will depend in part on your tolerance, or otherwise, of Brand’s style. He is undoubtedly talented, and it’s put to mostly good use here. There are a few very funny moments, but they tend to be when he is allowed to play up the wildness of his character. Scenes where Snow is made to be more human, more emotional, just fall flat. A few trims here and there might have helped the lighten the tone and quicken the pace – a suggestion that could also be legitimately aimed at some other Judd Apatow-produced comedies.
It’s far from being Brand’s show though. In actual fact Hill is the lead character, and he provides a few good laughs as Aaron Green, a down to earth music executive (if such a thing exists) overawed at being in the presence of the legendary Snow. Forced to try and keep his charge off the booze, Hill undergoes humiliation after humiliation in order to please the temperamental rock star. The airport drug scene will have men in the audience universally crossing their legs. The multiple drunken nights out also raise a smile or two, especially after the mismatched duo repair to a Las Vegas apartment with a particularly potent spliff.
For a comedy set in the world of rock, it’s a shame the jabs made at the music industry aren’t up to much. The predictably over-the-top pop videos hit the obvious targets, but certainly don’t come close to meeting Spinal Tap standards of satire. Equally, the lyrics for Snow’s back catalogue sound like Tap rejects; The Clap comes closest to matching the spoof band’s levels of self-indulgent stupidity. Brand does his best with the material, yet fails to generate the big laughs you might expect.
Oddly, with Hill playing the character who gets plied with the most drink and drugs, it’s left to Brand to act as the restraining influence. Surely that’s the wrong way around? Instead, Sean Combs gets the biggest laughs as the Les Grossman-like boss of Aaron. With Brand rarely let off the leash, Get Him to the Greek is a comedy that is even more unexceptional than its predecessor; yet it still provides enough laughs to keep it afloat.