Review: Opposites clash in "Get Him to the Greek"

  • Article by: COLIN COVERT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 3, 2010 - 10:26 PM

The hedonist meets the nebbish in this Apatow-produced raunchfest.

"Get Him to the Greek" is hormonal, anarchic fun. It's a Judd Apatow production, a sort of sequel to "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," the raunchy romantic comedy where we first encountered Russell Brand as debauched rock star Aldous Snow. Like the best Apatow films, this follow-up ties your emotions into the characters while your mind reels in convulsions of joy.

Jonah Hill plays Aaron Green, a low-level record-label exec about to settle into premature middle age. With his baby face and carefully cultivated stubble, he's anxious young adulthood incarnate. He lives with his girlfriend, a physician who returns from her residency shifts too exhausted to do anything but give him a goodnight peck on the forehead. Aaron, who has always been his circle's designated driver, channels his rebellious tendencies into his love of rock.

When he recommends that his record label re-stage Snow's triumphant 2000 concert at L.A.'s Greek Theater, he's assigned to chaperone the dissipated rocker on the three-day trip from London.

For Snow, coming off a monumentally insensitive African concept album -- "the worst thing to happen to Africa since apartheid"-- the concert is an offer he can't refuse. Superstar ego being what it is, he'll make the trip only on his own terms. As a fading rocker finally running out of sycophants and facing the rigors of marriage, children and addiction, he has some urgent growing up to do. But he's stuck at a point where, whatever the challenge, the only logical course of action is getting wasted or getting laid or -- ideally -- both.

When the worried, career-obsessed nebbish and the wise-ass hedonist collide, the rocker hijacks his baby sitter and the expected sex-drugs-and-drink shenanigans occur. Aaron is humiliated at every turn. He's forced to act as Aldous' drug mule at the airport, chugs the rocker's intoxicants so he doesn't arrive at a "Today Show" interview stoned, and even enables him in a funny-squirmy sexual encounter. What raises this movie above comedies of misbehavior like "The Hangover" and "MacGruber" is the notion that each of the characters has something to offer the other. Aaron expects more from his hero than sarcasm, cruelty, self-indulgence and torpor. In turn, Aldous rescues his music-nerd wingman from a life of smooth, polite, embalmed perfection.

Brand has a ball with Aldous, who camouflages his decadence as woolly, live-in-the-moment idealism. A reunion with his father, a resentful absentee musician sharply played by Colm Meaney, explains why Aldous needs to stand onstage being idolized by strangers. In the British style, Brand is willing to expose himself to merciless mockery, excusing none of his character's faults. Hill's role as Aaron isn't such a showboat part, but he makes the hapless nerd appealing. We see him veering into a life that could be a no-fun grind and we root for him to escape that fate. The surprise of the film is Sean "P. Diddy" Combs as the record-company owner. Introduced as a stock character, the hot-tempered boss, he keeps popping up in the story, gaining new comic dimensions with every appearance. Add in a cavalcade of inspired show-business cameos and a slew of funny mock rock anthems ("We've Got the Clap" -- everybody sing!) and you have proof that broad comedy is not necessarily dumb comedy.

Colin Covert • 612-673-7186

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  • Jonah Hill, Sean Combs and Russell Brand in "Get Him to the Greek."

  • GET HIM TO THE GREEK

    ★★★ out of four stars

    Rating: R for strong sexual content and drug use throughout, and pervasive language.

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