Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Get Him To The Greek

Imagine if in 1972 a guy like, say, Bob Newhart was tasked with tracking down Keith Richards at his French villa and then somehow getting him stateside for both an interview on NBC in New York and a concert a couple days later in L.A. Can you fathom the vodka bottles emptied and the cigarettes sucked down and heroin scored and the words typed on the police blotter during such an escapade? Could Newhart possibly survive this ordeal? Well, there is "Get Him To The Greek", out in theaters now, in a nutshell, a film centered around rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), first glimpsed as a critical supporting character, seven years sober, in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and now back as the focal point in this film, separated from his wife, pop diva Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), after the spectacularly unsuccessful single "African Child" and now off the wagon with extreme prejudice.

Meanwhile, back at Pinnacle Records, its President, Sergio (Sean "Puffy" Combs, channeling his inner "Tropic Thunder"-Tom Cruise), is desperate for ideas in this tough marketplace and when “affable nitwit” Aaron Green (Jonah Hill, shockingly dialed down) proposes an idea for a 10 year anniversary show of Aldous Snow’s legendary set at the Greek Theater in L.A. it is Aaron himself who is sent off to London to reel in Snow and take him first to New York City for an interview on the Today Show and then to the Greek of the title. Snow will not make things so simple, of course, forcing straight arrow Aaron to indulge in every vice imaginable, briefly work as a drug mule, and repeatedly get screamed at via phone by Sergio, not to mention there is the mandatory subplot of Aaron’s spouse Daphne (Elisabeth Moss) home on the range, a workaholic nurse who has just been offered a job in Seattle, a place where she seems to expect Aaron will move without any qualms. (Why do I dread marriage? Because of the moment when Aaron suggests they attend a Pixies/Mars Volta show and Daphne counter-offers six hours of "Gossip Girl." I rue the day I can no longer see Tift Merritt at 10:00 on a school night because, you know, it’s Tift Merritt at 10:00 on a school night.)

There are hijinx aplenty and numerous celebrity cameos and Jonah Hill vomiting, approximately, fourteen times and, yet, stunningly for all its rock star excess there is considerably less bad language in "Get Him To The Greek" than in "MacGruber." Go figure. It’s also much more enjoyable. Relatively. I don't want to give away the best gags but the film, written and directed by Nicholas Stoller, is overlong by, maybe, 15 minutes, getting far too sentimental in the third act (while also unskillfully ripping off Billy Crudup’s Golden God sequence in "Almost Famous"). It yearns to weave a bromance between Aldous and Aaron into a bit of a father/son dynamic with Aldous and his Vegas showman pop (Colm Meany) into a more domesticated rom com between Aaron and Daphne that takes a most bizarre turn when Aldous "helpfully" turns up for an assist. This sequence may have played funny on paper - who knows? - but onscreen it manages to simultaneously fall flat and get weird, and not in a good way. The decision made by Daphne rings so false based on the character we have been shown throughout it manages to briefly derail the proceedings.

And it's made more tragic because for all the complexity "Get Him To The Greek" fails to generate between its two principal characters despite devoting most of its screen time to them, it contains an alluring, deceptively sweet dysfunctional romance off to the side between Aldous and the ingenue Jackie Q that cheats them out of a real resolution by substituting another celebrity cameo instead. That is a real shame.

If "Get Him To The Greek" decides to keep the streak alive and make a sequel implementing one of its supporting characters then may I humbly request its subject be the none-too-successful reconciliation of Aldous and Jackie Q?

2 comments:

Wretched Genius said...

While I haven't yet seen this film, I fully support your sequel idea. I am 100% behind any project that allows Rose Byrne to showcase her comedic talent, instead of casting her as the dour, depressing lady. In fact, I'm pretty sure my knowledge of her comic timing is based solely on talk show interviews, as I cannot recall even a single Rose Byrne film role (that I have seen) where she so much as smiles.

Wait, not true. She smiles twice in Danny Boyle's under-appreciated "Sunshine." Later on she gets slashed by a scalpel and dies, probably because she smiled.

Nicholas Prigge said...

Oh, she's fantastic in this. Wait until you see her solo music video. It is vulgarity that is sarcastically hilarious.