Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: GET HIM TO THE GREEK (Nicholas Stoller 2010)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,307

    GET HIM TO THE GREEK (Nicholas Stoller 2010)

    Nicholas Stoller: GET HIM
    TO THE GREEK (2010)



    RUSSELL BRAND AS ALDOUS SNOW

    Get him back to rehab

    In this new movie from the Judd Apatow comedy factory, a Hollywood recording company flack called Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) has the job of getting wildly unreliable, substance-abusing English rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) from London to LA for a concert in three days. He succeeds, just barely. And so does this unruly movie succeed, just barely, in entertaining you -- if gross-out parties and sex and such are your thing.

    Here's how Apatow movies work. The personnel move around and ideas are spun off earlier movies. Stoller, once an assistant and collaborator on Apatow's TV series "Undeclared," directed the 2008 Forgetting Sarah Marshall, his first feature, using a screenplay by Jason Segal and starring Jason as a character spun off Segal's original daddy-of-them-all "Freaks and Geeks" TV series' lovelorn kid persona, Nick Andopolis. Brand was woven into Forgetting Sarah Marshall as the Aldous Snow character. It was a minor role, but one of the highlights of the movie. So why not spin out Aldous Brand into a screenplay devoted to him as the main character? And that's what they did. The question is whether Brand, a standup comic, is endurable over the length of a whole movie. Get Him to the Greek, a disheveled road movie with echoes of Todd Philips' very successful 2009 The Hangover (whose praise and profits these folks were doubtless not unaware of), is just a series of skits with a lot of barfing and partying. It's got its funny moments, and Brand is still himself a pretty droll fellow, but the story is very repetitive. (Economics commentator Paul Krugman and Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich are woven into this in cameos, but we doubt they'll have Apatow comedies spun out of their characters.)

    Apatow comedies involve a revolving list of co-conspirators who alternately act in, write, produce, or direct movies. Addous Snow, the outrageous, funny, sort of cool and sexy rock singer who keeps this movie going, is played by Russell Brand, a British comic who looks and dresses much like his character and, as detailed in his 2007 autobiography My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs, and Stand-Up, once acted just like him too -- only, if anything, quite a lot worse. The difference is that Brand in real life has been clean and sober for years and regularly attends 12-Step meetings. Like Robert Downey Jr., he has lived the debauched addict life to the hilt (complete with nearly a dozen arrests) and so when he acts such a character, he's playing a version of himself. Brand's character, Aldous, went straight for a few years also, but then party-time began again, causing his longtime girlfriend Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), also a famous rocker, to cut off relations. Aaron's boss's idea is that a concert by Aldous commemorating a famous evening at the Greek Theater in LA ten years earlier when he was at his peak of popularity will revive both Aldous' fortunes and the company's.

    Jonah Hill is practically a comedy factory of his own by now. He was in the cornerstones of the Apatow movie empire, 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad. He's just a straight man here, and to emphasize his straightness, he has a workaholic doctor-in-training girlfriend played by Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss. What's a nice girl like her doing in a gross-out comedy like this? The tone of Get Him to the Greek can be wildly uneven. As Aaron Green's record company boss Sergio Roma we have Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs, whose crisp delivery and absolute self-possession in his scenes seem to belong to a more verbal comedy with sharper timing. The British actors playing Aldous' mum and dad (Diana Stabb and Colm Meaney) come from a more realistic kind of comedy. There are mockups of rock videos by Aldous and Jackie Q, including Aldous' bomb, "African Child," a mockery of rock stars' self-appointed and utterly skin-deep save-the-world poses. Brilliantly realized and perhaps the best things in the film, these again belong to something else, something parodic and outrageously witty, something with an elaborate, gorgeous mise-en-scène. But the base line of the movie unfortunately is simply crudeness, as exemplified by the parties where girls take their boobs out and the sequence when Aldous forces Aaron to place a balloon of heroin up his rectum on the way through airport security, or the (ha ha ha, ho ho ho) scenes when the obliging flack has to smoke a lethal joint called a Jeffrey or chug vodka and quickly becomes falling-down, upchucking sick-drunk.

    Russell Brand still is funny; and he delivers his rock singing sequences with impressive panache and some singing talent (some of the songs, though, are just utterly crude and tasteless). This time, Jason Segal is given a partial writing credit just for the "characters' and Stoller himself did the screenplay; I'm not sure how good a writer Stoller is. There's not much room for character development in Aaron and Aldous' 24-hour-party trip. Take a look at Forgetting Sarah Marshall again. Jason Segal's lovesick guy was a well-honed persona, a character it's easy to sympathize with who has some depth. Feeling sorry for that guy and feeling sorry for Aldous Snow are two different things. Drunken addict behavior is colorful and exciting, alright (like a train wreck), but it's not very funny to watch somebody ruining his life. There are some keen observations about the addict mindset here. In Drugstore Cowboy the main character says the drug addict has control over how he feels because he creates his moods with chemicals. Similarly Aldous says his life is simple because his only worry is where his next high is coming from. He also has a suicidal moment, and performs on stage while badly injured because doing so brings joy to his audience and to him. In this sense Get Him to the Greek has a nice ending. But it take too long to get there. No matter how colorful, a drunken addict is still a train wreck and a bore. And Aaron, by his own admission, becomes Aldous' "enabler." How fun is that?
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-06-2014 at 01:42 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,307
    Building on a straight man. The poster shows graphically how this works.

    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 08-06-2014 at 01:44 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    SF Bay Area
    Posts
    13,307
    It's a little surprising to find that the quite often grumpy David Denby of The New Yorker (which came out today, June 7, 2010) has an extremely favorable review of GET HIM TO THE GREEK in this week's issue. I still find the material distasteful and the movie unsatisfactory and tend to agree with those who consider it one of the Apatow boys' missteps -- of which, truth to tell, there are plenty. Denby tips you off in his first sentence that he's going to excuse all flaws and award the silver cup when he calls the movie "brazenly funny." Yes, well, that goes for all the Apatow comedies. If they are funny, yes. It's always brazenly. Sometimes they're brazenly funny. Sometimes they're just brazen. Sometimes they're just trying and not quite succeeding to be either, just winding up being vaguely rude. So it is with much contemporary American humor, and that goes back decades. At some point shocking got confused with funny. They aren't the same, ever.

    In presenting his panegyric, Danby is much more able than I was to detail some of the really good bits in the movie to which I partly alluded -- the parodic intro and music videos especially. I recommend reading his review for that, and if you like it, go see the movie. Denby also goes into more detail about the movie's raison d'être, Russell Brand:
    Brand provides most of the fireworks. Anarchic, nasty, and unnervingly intelligent, his Aldous has extraordinary reserves of energy and an endless repertory of temperaments and moods. There’s some real-world basis for this. Brand has been through a lot. He has joked about his childhood (he claims that his first words were “Don’t do that”), and, at various times in his life, he has been a drama student (expelled), a standup comic, a radio host, an alcoholic, a heroin addict, "Shagger of the Year," a soccer fan and columnist, and an author. Apatow has said that "Aldous is actually a toned-down version of Russell."
    --BAD BOYS “Get Him to the Greek” and “Cyrus.” by David Denby
    The New Yorker, June 14, 2010
    But this is one of the main points, which I may not have made very well: the movie does not do justice to Russell Brand's talents or to who he is. The man is outrageous but also formidably witty and intelligent, and in his standup routines he habitually uses a more literate vocabulary than we're used to. Take a look at him in his New York standup performance (in two parts) He's smarter, and more complex, and also just funnier than GET HIM TO THE GREEK, with its frat-boy gross-out schemework, allows for. He lacks an Oxbridge education, but he's still the bad boy heir of Monty Python and the quartet of English comic geniuses who gathered for Beyond the Fringe. But as he explains in the New York staudup routine, FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL jump-started his fame in the US and as that grows, he becomes more bankable here, and as that happens, he gets more movie opportunities and we get to hear and see more of him. (I first really became aware of him in London in 2007 when a big newspaper was running excerpts from his jaw-dropping and hilarious Booky Wook.)
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 06-07-2010 at 09:36 PM.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •