'Get Him to the Greek': Sequel or Spinoff, It's Subpar

Reviewing Russell Brand and Jonah Hill's movie, 'Get Him to the Greek.'

June 7, 2010 — -- It's difficult to say if "Get Him To The Greek" is a sequel or a spinoff of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall." Russell Brand first played the character of rock star (and leader of Infant Sorrow) Aldous Snow in that film, but this is more of a separate vehicle than a continuation.

If you thought Brand's cartoonish crudeness was the most annoying part of that film, well then, this movie isn't for you.

It opens with Aldous Snow shooting the video for his song "African Child," in what looks like an African village. (We find out later that he has never actually been to Africa.) This section has several jokes including a shot that makes it look like he's giving birth. He thinks the song and the album, which shares its title, are both going to be huge. His longtime girlfriend, pop star Jackie Q. (Rose Byrne) agrees. Being sober for a number of years, the two proudly share a son, Naples, who is there for the video shoot. When the song and album both fail to be the classics Snow thinks them to be, he falls off the wagon, he and Jackie Q. break up and all goes haywire.

Sergio (a surprisingly effective and vibrant Sean "P. Diddy" Combs) is a record executive looking for some miracle that will reignite his sales. He bemoans the disappointing 15,000 units moved by an artist winkingly named Chocolate Daddy. Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) reminds Sergio that the tenth anniversary of Aldous Snow's epic concert at the Greek Theatre is approaching, and that to honor that anniversary, they should have him do it again. With all the hype around such an event, they could spark interest around Snow again, sell a lot of tickets and reissue his entire back catalog with bonus tracks.

At first Sergio isn't too keen on the idea but he comes around when Snow agrees. Aaron is then put on a seemingly simple mission. He must go to England, pick up Aldous Snow, take him to New York for an appearance on "The Today Show" and then get him back to Los Angeles to the Greek Theatre for the concert. What could go wrong?

Well, Aldous Snow is a nightmarish, constantly inebriated, nihilistic sex manic who doesn't respond to direction. (His definition of monogamy is letting your partner know when you cheat.) Aaron is in way over his head.

Meanwhile, Aaron is experiencing domestic bliss with his longtime doctor girlfriend, Daphne (Elisabeth Moss of "Mad Men") until she accepts a residency position in Seattle and suggests that they both move. With his relationship seemingly at its end, Aaron is left very vulnerable. The question is, how much trouble can Aldous Snow cause? Can he keep it together long enough to make it to the Greek? Will he bring down straight-laced Aaron with him?

Unlike "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," Jason Segal did not write "Get Him to the Greek." Instead, director, Nicholas Stoller serves as scribe. Segal is a producer and helped write some of the Infant Sorrow songs, but perhaps the movie would've been better if he'd helped in the scriptwriting process as well.

This is a much darker, more tedious movie. It lacks the sweetness and warmth of its predecessor. Most of the jokes rely on Aaron's public embarrassment at the hands of Aldous Snow.

This is far from the worst movie Judd Apatow has produced in recent years. That would be the shockingly uneven "Funny People." But it also doesn't quite stand beside classics like "Superbad" and "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." It actually plays like "Walk Hard: The Next Generation." It has enough funny lines to keep your attention, but most of the time you find yourself just feeling sorry for Aaron.

Strikingly, the best comic moments come from Combs' Sergio. He also is able to point out the sycophantic nature of the music industry when he tells Aaron that if he is asked, he should say he loved "African Child" and "bought ten copies the day it came out," even if it's a lie.

The movie does have its share of memorable moments. There's an inspired bit about a fur-covered wall and how a "Jeffrey" isn't quite as innocuous as it sounds. One of the funniest scenes involves a shot of adrenaline. Unfortunately, if you've seen the ads on television, you've pretty much seen this already. This film is packed with cameos from the likes of Aziz Ansari, Lars Ulrich and Paul Krugman, just to name a few. (Yes, Paul Krugman!)

If you are looking for a comedy classic, this isn't quite it. "Get Him To The Greek" is a likable, but rentable movie meant to burn time on Saturday afternoons. Hill and Moss do their best to give the film a slight sense of humanity, but mostly it's Brand's show and to many he is an acquired taste.