Get Him to the Greek (R)
Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown
Two years ago, English comedian and force of nature Russell Brand was the best part of the otherwise drearily neurotic Forgetting Sarah Marshall. As sex-crazed rock star Aldous Snow — new boyfriend of the girl to be forgotten — Brand was full of the snappy energy and offbeat charm that the rest of the movie lacked, and seemed almost as if he'd been imported from another film.
This could have been that film. Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller takes on screenwriting here, too, with the story of Snow and the hapless employee from Pinnacle Records who must chaperone him from London to Los Angeles for the concert that's going to save the recording studio. As genus American Comedy, species Raunchy Grossout goes, Get Him to the Greek (L.A.'s Greek Theatre, that is) is about as good as they get, which is to say: It's hit and miss, with more of the latter.
It can't decide whether it wants to be outrageous or sentimental, is unable to embrace either end of the emotional spectrum, and fails to create a cohesive whole, instead delivering a series of disjointed sketches. But the few times Greek does hit, it gets off some pointed, witty zingers at the expense of the degradation of pop culture, celebrity self-involvement and the death throes of corporate music.
Russell Brand is still the best thing here, and at least he gets more screen time. Alas, on screen just as frequently is Jonah Hill as Aaron Green, the Pinnacle drone struggling to corral Brand's inveterate party animal. Sadly, Hill seems just as lost as his character: It's impossible to imagine what Aaron brings to the company that he should be rewarded — or so his assignment appears — with the job of hanging out with "one of the last remaining rock stars." (The concert was Aaron's idea, but that's hardly reason enough.) We're meant to identify with the "nice guy" who "cuts loose," but Hill has neither the presence nor charisma to pull off the role. We barely notice him. Aaron simply isn't interesting or appealing.
Aldous Snow, on the other hand, is a hoot. I wish Stoller had been more willing to simply throw us full bore into the train wreck that is Aldous' life, but I'm struck with a terrible certainty that Greek believes it's required to be a cautionary tale about how the "glamorous life" ain't so glamorous. So we're sidetracked from the really intriguing and genuinely provocative stuff — of which there is too little to begin with — by a tedious subplot involving Aaron's relationship bumps with his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss), contrasted with Aldous' disaster of a romance with pop star Jackie Q (a hilarious Rose Byrne).
Just as Aaron figures out what he wants out of life, we're meant to feel sorry for Aldous, who really is quite lonely. Turns out the jet-setting, drug-taking, free-sex-everywhere, millionaire rock star lifestyle ain't all it's cracked up to be. Who knew?
But even there, Greek doesn't quite hit the mark: If it hopes to make Aaron's life more attractive than Aldous', it never does. And yet, it can't see that. It's as clueless as Aldous is supposed to be. I wish the director had had the nerve to go where his story appears to have wanted to take him. Instead it becomes as meek as Aaron, and Stoller is the one we pity in the end.