Sunday, October 30, 2011

3 short paragraphs: Get Him To The Greek

2010, Nicholas Stoller

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of my favourite comedies of the past decade, a movie I can watch over and over and not get enough of. It's both a break-up comedy and a romantic comedy, but foremost it's just terrifically funny with great characters (main and supporting) and the setting of Hawaii at its most idyllic. Jason Segel, as writer and star, proved that being an Apatow disciple did not mean being an Apatow clone. From the same director, Get Him To The Greek, two years later, followed two of Sarah Marshall's minor characters into their own film, but in those two years, Greek's leads, Jonah Hill and Russell Brand had kind of proven themselves to be rather one-note actors. Brand's cheeky public persona had become rather annoying, while Hill's droll sarcasm had become tedious. My impulse was, without Segel's involvement, that it wouldn't prove as affecting or hilarious as Sarah Marshall, and could possibly drag the former film down with its mediocrity.

Turns out I had no reason to be concerned. Get Him To The Greek isn't as charming as its predecessor (where Sarah Marshall had a rather large and rich cast of characters filling it out, Greek is largely a two-pony show, which makes its 2 hours seem a little long) but it's still got plenty of charm. Hill is given a much richer character to divest himself in than he ever has before, providing a glimpse of his acting talent displayed later in Moneyball, while Brand's Aldus Snow is the absolute perfect character for him, a larger-than-life rock star constantly at war with his own ego. In the opening sequence alone, which is a mock entertainment tabloid report on the massive failure of Snow's latest record, the film packs in comedy from all angles. There's sharp jabs at pop music (subtle and overt), outrageous sight gags, clever turns of phrase, musical comedy, and more, in equal parts emanating from Stoller's direction and editing and from the performances, Brand specifically.

Upon our introduction to Jonah Hill's Aaron Green at his job as a record company intern, we're also introduced to the film's secret weapon: Sean Coombs. Yes, P. Diddy is this film's secret weapon. He provides a fearless and hilarious performance as the record industry mogul who's a master of the Jedi mind fuck. At a meeting Hill suggests a tenth anniversary show for Aldus Snow's best-selling Greek Theatre performance, and is tasked with getting the drug-addled party monster from London to New York for a Today Show performance, and then from NY to LA for the big show. Naturally the reluctant buddy comedy/road movie formula ensues in grandiose what-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong fashion. The film is about 20 minutes too long, but it wins in both comedy and character, providing real depth to Brand's Aldus Snow, making him a surprisingly sympathetic adversary to Hill's in-over-his-head fanboy.