Starring: Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Rose Byrne
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”)
Written by: Nicholas Stoller (“Yes Man”)
What happens when you take the most irritating character from the very funny 2008 comedy “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and create a spin-off movie just for him? While a first impression of actor Russell Brand’s narcissistic British rock star Aldous Snow might be as grating as an Emerson, Lake & Palmer track (shudder), he actually grows on you in the new film “Get Him to the Greek.” And even if he doesn’t, you’ll be laughing too hard to care.
In the film, Brand reprises his role as a less-sober version of Aldous, lead singer of the popular band Infinite Sorrow, who has since fallen off the wagon when his life begins to spiral out of control. His latest pretentious song “African Child” is receiving some critical backlash (its called “the worst thing to happen to Africa since the Apartheid”) and his Victoria Beckham-esque girlfriend Jackie Q (Rose Byrne) has dumped him.
His career is all but over until lowly record company minion Aaron Green (Jonah Hill, who was also in “Sarah Marshall,” but played a different character) suggests to his high-strung boss Sergio Roma (Sean Combs in a scene-stealing role) that booking Aldous for a 10-year anniversary concert at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles is just the thing the record label needs to make some serious cash.
To make it happen, Aaron must fly to London to pick up the fried musician, escort him to N.Y. for some press and then to L.A. for the performance. But when Aaron arrives, Aldous becomes much more interested in partying hard than getting on the flight. When he promises Aaron the time of his life, the concert at the Greek falls a few slots down on the priority list as the two make a mad dash cross country in a riotous road-trip comedy.
As a raunchy, hard R-rated flick, “Greek” resembles some of the more recently successful foul-mouthed comedies of the past few years including “Superbad” and “Knocked Up.” Director Judd Apatow, who seems to have his hand in most of these movies in some form or another, serves as producer on this one.
Brand, who might be viewed as a one-trick pony, gives Aldous more of a human element here that would not have fit well in “Sarah Marshall.” Most of the comedy does work because his character is so reprehensible at times, but the cockiness is balanced out nicely by some surprisingly genuine scenes that deal with depression and loneliness. Also there to keep Brand from going overboard is Hill, who over the last six years has become a comedic genius. His timing, subtle delivery, and overall likeability are taking him places.
While a film like “Almost Famous” might have romanticize what it would be like to spend some time on the road with musicians, “Greek” does the opposite. It takes the rock star lifestyle into extreme territory. It’s only halfway through the year, but “Get Him to the Greek” is the most side-splitting comedy to hit theaters thus far.