Monday, June 14, 2010

Love: Get Him to the Greek

Get Him to the Greek is not Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  Though it's partially a spin-off based on Russell Brand's rock star lothario Aldous Snow from that sun-soaked rom com, you can forget Sarah Marshall.  Aldous Snow already has.  The closest you'll come to Jason Segel's film is a televised Kristen Bell cameo in which Snow takes a hard look and decides that yes, in fact, he does think he used to have sex with her.  No, Get Him to the Greek is not Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  It's a deep black pit of a comedy where everything potentially sweet is soured and the gods of chaos pummel mercilessly at bruised egos with strikingly somber undertones.  The superficial lure is a madcap buddy comedy of errors, but beware: Get Him to the Greek does knows few boundaries. It dives headfirst into music industry excess and transforms suddenly into an oft unpleasant cautionary tale on the limits of control.  It's also, of course, scathingly funny.

Superbad's Jonah Hill plays (semi)straight man as record company toadie Aaron Green.  Aaron has a doctor girlfriend (Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss) who spends her free time sleeping, a too-intense boss (Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs, going 100% over-the-top to pull off a pretty decent comedic performance), and is a superfan of musical act Infant Sorrow's Aldous Snow (Brand).  Aldous Snow is an off the wagon rock god with a miserably failed last album.  His vulgar pop star girlfriend (Rose Byrne), whose sparkling lyrical subject matter seems anal-centric, has left him in the ditch and his best girl now is the hypodermic needle.  When Aaron is instructed to fly to London, retrieve Aldous, and get him to Los Angeles's Greek Theater in time for the anniversary concert that could revive the rocker's career, the trip is a snowballing accruement of disasters beginning with petty gags and spiraling towards dangerous, destructive behavior.
Get Him to the Greek is peppered with pop culture references and loaded with satirical ammunition.  It puts the music business on the spot and sheds light on some of its most dubious practices.  Aaron is instructed to play sycophant and indulge his idol's every whim.  In doing so, his values are compromised, his dignity is stripped away from him.  Hill plays his character well, alternating between boyish naivety and no fear, gross out stupor.  Brand, though, steals the show.  Aldous Snow is a stripped-down approximation of Brand's real life.  He's been to hell and back: addicted to sex and substances with equal fervor, stricken with depression, eating disorders, and causing enough havoc to accumulate a record of 11 arrests.  Brand knows this character, and his portrayal is magnetic.  On stage, he has charismatic swagger.  In private, his vulnerability, neurosis and fear are real and damn near heartbreaking.  You find yourself liking him even as he does or demands the unthinkable (and believe me, there are points in this film that steer much closer to Trainspotting than 40-Year Old Virgin), and it's these qualities that save the movie from itself. 

Get Him to the Greek is not an easy comedy.  In fact, it's frequently downright offputting.  It challenges its characters and its viewers, constantly upping the ante on its risks and moving very rapidly into territory that will be patently offensive (or depressing) to many.  Yet, perhaps in spite of all the vomit, slapstick, and mental/physical risks, it is a surprisingly complicated film, and a small success.  What Get Him to the Greek has going for it is its attention to the detail of its characters.  Aaron and Aldous are fully formed.  The clash of their personalities as they grapple to understand or battle one another creates the perfect laboratory for experimentation with Murphy's Law.  There are only a couple moments that leave you questioning a character's motivation, and in a movie like this, that's quite something.  Get Him to the Greek is a wild ride with any number of laughable lines.  Don't be alarmed, though, if at times it feels as though you really have to want to find them.  

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...