K. Diddy’s A Film Star And Other Improbable Tales

Peter Hall at Cinematical:

There is a quick and simple litmus test to tell whether or not you’ll enjoy Get Him to the Greek. If you found Aldous Snow, Russell Brand’s caricature of a rock star, to be one of the funnier elements of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, then you will no doubt have a riot with the increased raunchiness his character once again brings to the screen for director Nicholas Stoller. If, for whatever reason, you find Brand’s larger-than-life presence to be as insufferable as the real rock stars he’s lampooning, chances are good his spin-off film will do little to convince you there’s more to him than just an outrageous persona. Get Him to the Greek is exactly what the trailers advertise: Aldous Snow turned to 11.

The record company Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) works for is taking a beating in the recession. In an attempt to turn business around, Aaron’s boss, Sergio (Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs), agrees to go ahead with Aaron’s suggestion to put on a massive concert marking Aldous Snow’s band’s ten-year anniversary at the Greek theater in Los Angeles. Trouble is, the eccentric lead singer of Infant Sorrow is half-way around the world in London. Aaron must then fly to the UK just days before the concert is set to take place and escort the easily distracted rocker back to LA in time for the show. Aldous, who could care less about the concert, is far more interested in forcing his new pet Aaron out of his timid shell. Hilarity ensues.

That may sound mocking, but it’s not. Get Him to the Greek’s plot may be a feature film version of a sitcom, but it’s also the first film of 2010 that’s left me breathless from laughing too hard. Jonah Hill and Russell Brand have an enormous reservoir of chemistry together and every scenario the two are written into, almost all of which revolve around Brand’s perpetual quest for drugs, pays off with raucous, R-rated (but not gratuitous) glory. So, provided you actually enjoy Aldous Snow, there’s no denying that the film will have you convulsing with laughter throughout its brisk running time. At 109 minutes, Greek is one of the shorter films that bears Judd Apatow’s name as a producer. It also happens to be one of the most unique titles amongst that roster. Unfortunately, that’s not exclusively a compliment.

Dana Stevens at Slate:

If this frantically paced buddy comedy had a motto, it would have to be the one uttered by Spinal Tap’s glassy-eyed keyboardist near the end of This Is Spinal Tap: “Have a good time … all the time.” There’s no buildup, no narrative arc, just one scene of comically debauched partying after another. The only shifts occur in the locale (London, New York, Las Vegas, L.A.) and the substance being ingested: champagne, absinthe, heroin, and a joint that’s laced with everything but the kitchen sink and innocuously nicknamed a “Jeffrey.” Marathon revelry as a crucible for the forging of friendship is a time-honored trope, both at the movies and in college. But you don’t come to value a person just because the two of you get shitfaced together. You come to value them because you embark on ill-advised escapades, share indiscreet confidences, inadvertently hurt and then sloppily forgive one another … while being shitfaced together. A good party movie understands this. But recent guys-on-the-town comedies like Get Him to the Greek—I’d also include Hot Tub Time Machine and Superbad in this category—seem so keen to amp up the hurt that they neglect the part about forgiveness.

Stephanie Zacharek at Movieline:

It also contains numerous moments of unrepentant absurdity that work in spite of themselves, as comedy so often does. When Sean Combs, as Aaron’s crazed, demanding boss (he has the great, ridiculously unlikely name Sergio Roma), coaches him in the management of unruly rock stars, he stresses the importance of that time-honored intimidation technique so beloved by upper-management types, the mind-f***. “I’m mind f***-ing you right now,” he tells Aaron, staring him down with the faux-nutso intensity of David Byrne performing “Psycho Killer” circa 1977. Aaron patiently endures this act of imaginary penetration before going for the kicker: “I hope you’re wearing a condom, because you’ve got a dirty mind.”

Get Him to the Greek is filled with gags like that, jokes so lame and ludicrous they somehow circle ‘round back to being funny. It doesn’t hurt that the movie is dotted with an assortment of lively second- and third bananas, Combs among them. (He has the megalomaniacal record-industry exec thing down cold.) Rose Byrne, as Snow’s ditzy, kittenish ex, Jackie Q., also has a few deliciously zonked-out scenes, including a faux rock video that shows her romping around in a tiny, flouncy French milkmaid costume. Byrne, in addition to being a good sport, has marvelous comic timing: At one point she blinks out at us from behind a set of enormous feather eyelashes, fluttering her lids as if it were the most normal thing in the world to have Cleopatra’s fans affixed to your lashline.

Even Hill is, for once, reasonably funny here, possibly because he’s used sparingly and carefully. The character he’s playing is painfully realistic: He’s a wholly believable rendering of every obsessive LP-collecting schmoe who thought it would be cool to turn his love of music into a full-time job in what used to be known as the recording industry, only to find that working said job for more than a year or two is enough to kill off your love of music altogether. Hill is perfectly happy to play the foil here, settling down to play the stereotypical down-trodden schlub who dips a cautious toe into the fabled rock-and-roll lifestyle and finds it overrated.

Rob Hunter at Film School Rejects:

Brand and Hill both prove they can carry a comedy by constantly and consistently bringing the funny. Brand’s range is obviously limited to, well, playing himself, but he does so brilliantly. Dryly sarcastic and giddily triumphant, he is pure leather-clad, booze-soaked id strutting across the screen. From the opening music video for the song that sinks his career (“African Child”) to convincing Green to smoke, snort, and snog with pure abandon, Brand has enthusiasm and energy to spare. Between this and Cyrus Hill is showing a bit more acting talent here than just the surly comedic dick he’s contributed to flicks like Funny People and Superbad. He doesn’t always hit the mark on the more serious bits, but he manages the straight man pushed to be snarky with definite comedic skill.

The two surprises here though are P. Diddy Combs and Byrne. Combs’ take on the boss from hell begins fairly straight-forward but each subsequent appearance finds him more animated, unpredictable, and gut-busting to watch. Whether espousing the benefits of smoking a “Jeffrey” or dancing a tribute to Carlton from The Fresh Prince he threatens to steal scenes from his more established co-stars and proves himself a worthy comedian. Byrne comes out of left-field too, as nothing on her resume prepares you for the bawdy, raunchy, and hilarious British tart she brings to life onscreen as Snow’s ex, Jackie Q. Like Brand, she gets to sing some witty and dirty little pop numbers including one cheeky little number about her bum hole. Toss in brief but funny cameos from the likes of Kristen Bell, Rick Schroder, Aziz Ansari, and Paul Freaking Krugman, and you have a steady stream of giggles.

The movie’s only real weakness is in an area that it’s predecessor got so effortlessly right. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is equally humorous throughout, but it’s also filled with a fair amount of heart and emotion. You come to love some of the characters, you feel their pain, and you care what happens to them beyond simply the next punchline. That heart isn’t beating nearly as strong here… although it’s not for lack of trying. Stoller and his cast work really hard to make you see the heartbreak, loneliness, and internal struggles facing these characters, but seeing it and believing it are two different things. It looks like a lot of work when it should feel natural and organic, and because of that it isn’t fully believable. The two leads are both fantastically funny guys but neither are experienced enough actors to pull it off completely. Brand comes surprisingly close though at times as he reveals the degree of love he feels for his son and Jackie Q, but it fades quickly with the next vomit scene.

Foster Kamer at The Village Voice:

Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has recently enjoyed his time in the sun for being (A) a 2008 Nobel prize-winner, (B) correct about a bunch of things, (C) smacking down flashy upstart Andrew Ross Sorkin. All of which are beside those times Loudon Wainwright wrote a song about him and a moderator during a discussion at the London School of Economics once introduced him a “rock star”. But this thing might have gone too far, now.

From Roger Ebert’s review of the new Judd Apatow comedy – Get Him to the Greek, starring funny fat Jewish kid Jonah Hill and funny Limey sex-addict Russell Brand, about a lackee who has to get a rock star to LA’s Greek Theater – this is your New York Times-related “WTF” parenthetical aside of the day:

In a movie jammed with celebrity cameos (New York Times columnist Paul Krugman?), we see…

P. Krugman is in a movie with P. Diddy? At this rate, dude’s about to get pelted with a bunch of economist groupie-panties next time he walks in the Times building. Somewhere, Ross Douthat is on the phone, screaming at his agent while Charles Isherwood stews somewhere, feeling upstaged.

UPDATE: Huffington Post

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Mainstream, Movies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s