Actor Russell Brand’s character Aldous Snow stole the show in the romantic comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. When it was reported that the character would be revived in another film, Get Him to the Greek, it was met with both cheers and trepidation. The newest film from Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller may surprise fans expecting a repeat of Snow’s antic as the film is really a dark comedy highlighting the highs, and depressing lows, of living the rock star life. It’s a smart and endearing tale but if you’re looking for Forgetting Sarah Marshall 2, you won’t find it in Get Him to the Greek.
Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) is the ultimate rock star, selling millions of records while engaging in an explosive on-again, off-again romance with fellow musician Jackie Q (Rose Byrne). When Snow suffers from a single dubbed “the worst single of all time” and loses his girlfriend he slips into a life of drugs and obscurity. Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is a low-level music intern given the mission of bringing Snow back to America for a ten-year reunion concert at the Greek theater. As a long-time fan Green is ecstatic but finds that the world of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and get Snow to the gig is a lot harder than it looks.
Get Him to the Greek is hilarious, but not as a straight comedy. The film combines the raunchy humor involved with the rock star life with a biting satire about the music industry in general. Audiences learn a lot more about Snow then they did in Sarah Marshall, here he is a world-renowned rock star who is losing himself to drugs and excess. In a time where train wreck celebrities are watched constantly the film plays that up with appearances from the show TMZ and various celebrity cameos. Stoller really crafts a world around Snow making it appear that he’s been around forever. The film never tries to sugarcoat anything, portraying the record industry as one where drugs are handed out like candy, and the rock star life is an ultimately lonely experience. This aspect alone elevates Get Him to the Greek as poignant since it never seeks to show drug abuse as cool, merely showing it as prevalent in the music industry and that it ultimately decimates the performers. The film is best described as a dark comedy and when Snow discovers what he’s lost to become who he is it becomes more downbeat. The film never tries to completely depress the audience but it does give a heavy dose of reality that isn’t being played up in the trailers. Aside from that the jokes are hilarious. Starting off with Aldous Snow’s controversial video for “African Child” the scenes with Snow and his troubled girlfriend are side-splitting and anytime you see the two stars perform you’ll be humming the songs and laughing at the same time. Anyone who’s watched a music video in this day and age will be busting up at how this movie lampoons it. Snow steals the show and while the character of Aaron Green gets in a few jabs this is Snow’s movie entirely.
For anyone who doesn’t think Russell Brand can act, see this movie! Brand perfectly walks the line between over the top rocker and depressed junkie. If you know anything about Brand’s life before he became famous the scenes where he hits rock bottom don’t seem like acting at all. Even when Snow is screaming for drugs you still want to be his friend and hope things turn out well for him. Brand is able to convey the vulnerability and the humor and should be praised for that. Hopefully this pushes Brand into more diverse material because he can pull off a character aside from his manic rock-star mentality. Jonah Hill is solid as the straight-man who wants to get a taste of life. He still tries a bit too hard to play up the big eyes and exaggerated facial expressions but here he’s remarkably restrained in contrast to Brand, something that is needed for their dynamic to work. The scene stealer throughout has to be Rose Byrne as Jackie Q as an Amy Winehouse-esque character. Her chemistry with Brand is electric and even when she tries to be serious her performance is tinged with enough humor to make you laugh out loud as intended.
The film does walk the fine line between dark comedy and out and out melodrama at times, especially when it’s suggested that Aaron, his girlfriend and Aldous have a threesome. It becomes very somber and can lead the audience to believe it won’t return to comedy, something that was seen with the unfunny Apatow film Funny People. Anyone expecting a straight summer comedy will be disappointed that this is a rather dark comedic endeavor. The worst actor in the bunch has to be Sean “P. Diddy” Combs as record head Sergio Roma. Not only does he get far too much screen time for what is in essence a throwaway character, but he punctuates every sentence with an F-bomb and screaming. His character is so stereotypical and profiled by race yet at the same time he’s screaming out a monologue about racism. It becomes ridiculous that he gets so much time on-screen that he even has to read an email out loud, making him dominate scenes in which he’s not even present! It’s obvious he was given more time because of his name but his character and acting are so abominable it takes away from the other fine performances.
Aside from a ridiculous turn by Combs, Get Him to the Greek has fantastic musical performances and is a sharp and witty take on the music industry and the rock star life. At times both bleak and sad the film combines story and comedy wonderfully and Russell Brand definitely proves his naysayer’s wrong.