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Movie Review: Get Him to the Greek (R)

For Older Teens, a “Greek” Treat

By Roxana Hadadi

“Get Him to the Greek,” director Nicholas Stoller’s follow-up to the successful 2008 comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” aims to accomplish a lot. Part of the film wants to give meaningful insight about drug addiction. Another part tries to describe the give-and-take relationship between record companies and their artists. And then there are all the other vague analyses of romance, parental responsibility and casual sex – complete with obscenity and nudity to spare.

But at its heart, “Get Him to the Greek” is a tale of a bromance, an unhealthy adoration introduced in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” that gets expanded and embellished. And though Jonah Hill’s character here has a different name than he did in the 2008 comedy, his role – and the bond he grows to share with Russell Brand’s character, rock star Aldous Snow – is what drives the film. Ultimately the film lacks the sentimentally relatable quality that made “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” such a winner, but the Hill-Brand is a pairing that certainly draws a lot of laughs.

The film begins by (re)introducing viewers to the outrageousness of Aldous Snow (Brand), who in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” was a rakish rock star who had spent the last seven years sober – and the last year in bed with Sarah Marshall, main character Peter Bretter’s (Jason Segel, who wrote that film and gets the credit for some of the characters in this one) longtime girlfriend. Here, we’re given more background on Snow: A humongous celebrity whose flopped album, “African Child,” helped drive him apart from his girlfriend Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), the man is now a walking hot mess. Cripplingly addicted to drugs and alcohol, he’s become tabloid fodder as “African Child” is called the “worst single of the decade” by critics. And to make things even worse, Jackie Q is granted full custody of their son Naples (Lino Facioli), depressing Snow even further.

While Snow’s life is falling apart, his record company, Pinnacle, is struggling to figure out how to weather the economic downturn. As executive Sergio (Sean “Diddy” Combs) asks his employees for ideas, music enthusiast Aaron Green (Hill) points out that the 10th anniversary of Snow’s performance at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles is next month. By convincing Snow to do the concert, the company can make millions from sponsors, ticket sales and record re-releases, Green points out – inspiring Sergio to send him to gather Snow and bring him to L.A. to do the concert.

But before he leaves, Sergio tries to impress upon him the importance of drawing the line between Pinnacle employee and Snow fan. In a way similar to what Lester Bangs tried to tell aspiring rock journalist William Miller in the 2000 film “Almost Famous,” Sergio stresses the importance of putting the company’s interests first – therefore, doing whatever it takes to appease Snow and get him to the U.S. This is Green’s “one moment in life,” Sergio says, and to make sure the company wins, he has to suck up to Snow, lying about how much he dislikes the “African Child” album and basically making sure Snow does the concert and helps make their millions.

Faced with that moral dilemma – and under the impression that his girlfriend Daphne (Elisabeth Moss) had just broken up with him – Green departs for England. With 72 hours to collect Snow, take him to New York City for a taping of “The Today Show” and then to L.A. for the concert, Green is on a tight schedule, which Snow disregards at once. Instead, the rock star coaches Green into a string of debauchery, sex and drugs that puts nearly everything, from Green’s job to his relationship with Daphne to Snow’s connection to Jackie Q and Naples, at risk.

Much like the smash 2009 comedy “The Hangover” started with a simple premise and got exponentially more absurd – guys go to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, end up with a tiger and baby, start fights with Mike Tyson and Chinese gangsters, etc. – “Get Him to the Greek” follows the same screwball formula of party-recover-party-embark-on-a-downward-spiral-party-recover. As Snow’s and Green’s behavior becomes increasingly more reckless, their bond grows, too – Green realizes the parental abandonment that helped shape Snow’s rebellious personality, while Snow begins to appreciate how Green’s adoration of him represents what his fan base wants.

But is their three-day sojourn into best-friend-land totally believable? Of course not – especially when it comes to threesomes and drug paraphernalia. It’s largely hilarious, though, from a destructive fight in a Las Vegas hotel room to the numerous scenes in various European clubs. It’s Brand’s perfect grasp of the character – from the way he struts to how he throws back his hair – that makes Snow so wonderful, and though his attempts at emotional depth seem somewhat thrown in, they’re more believable than you would expect. And others, such as Combs basically as himself and Byrne as Jackie Q, hold their own – Stoller’s creation of her’s and Snow’s fake music videos are so inappropriate and sexually suggestive that you can’t help but imagine that if pop star Lady Gaga ever saw this, she’d spend most of the film frantically taking notes.

It is strange, however, that the film has many nods to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” – such as a cameo by Kristen Bell – but no mention of how Hill played a different-but-similar character in it. And overall, “Get Him to the Greek” is purely for older teenagers: Female and male nudity, sex scenes, two implied instances of sexual abuse, drug use, violence, cursing and subtle racism abound.

Nevertheless, for fans of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” Brand’s reprisal of Snow’s character makes the 109 minutes fly by. And thanks to Stoller’s directing style – lots of fast cuts, slow-motion transitions and physical and potty humor – newcomers can also appreciate the utter absurdity and goofy escapism of “Get Him to the Greek.” It’s not as emotionally affecting as “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” but in terms of spinoffs, it is way better than you’d think.


Roxana Hadadi last reviewed “Robin Hood.”

Looking for something more kid-friendly? How about “Shrek Forever After?”


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