Get Him To The Greek: Drinks, Drugs, and Diddy Will Make You Giddy

Get Him To The Greek is for all intents and purposes a formula comedy: two opposites must achieve an objective together, go through many zany episodes along the way, and learn something from each other as a result. However, it provides a few surprises. The attempts to give the wild grossout adventure to a more serious tone only work sparingly, but Jonah Hill shows his brand of humor can work in a leading role capacity and Russell Brand reveals his capacity to perhaps do more than just his usual shtick in the future—they carry the film capably. The greatest joy of this film, however, comes in the unexpectedly hilarious supporting performances from Rose Byrne and, most notably, P. Diddy. Diddy’s exaggerated version of himself steals the whole film and will inevitably rank as one of the funniest performances of 2010.

Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), previously seen in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, was still the biggest music star in the world. He was madly in love with hot pop sensation Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), he was partying hard every day and night, and he was living the rock and roll dream. However, his serious album, “African Child,” was deemed horribly racist and idiotic, and his career was ruined. Flash forward to today– famous record exec Sergio (P. Diddy) needs to find new ways to earn his music company some money in this economic crisis. Middleman Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) has an idea to revive his favorite artist’s career and earn the love of his boss: Snow played one of the most famous live performances ever at the Greek Theater a decade ago—he could play a 10th Anniversary show, revive his career, and make a boatload of dough. The idea is well-received, and he is put in charge of taking Snow from London to the Greek Theater. He has 72 hours. And while it sounds like an easy task, Snow is an out-of-control rocker whose issues with drinks, drugs, Jackie, and his dad (Colm Meaney) make the journey difficult.

This film comes from the Apatow camp, so you know that you’ll get boys behaving badly. While Brand gets his share of laughs with his zany behavior and mile-a-minute off-color line delivery, Jonah Hill gets many of the biggest audience reactions. He sets himself up as being a button-down version of the Jonah Hill we’ve seen in previous film incarnations, so when Brand forces him to cut loose, it’s all the funnier in contrast to the malcontent dullard we met in the first 15 minutes or so. His awkwardness and his good intentions earn the audience’s sympathy. His relationship with his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss from Mad Men) is good comedy fare at first, but when it starts to get treated too seriously down the line, the film derails somewhat. It’s such a madcap farce and the performances give enough dimension to the performances as is—why try to bog this film down with messages about relationships and growing up?

Clearly growing up is the prevailing theme in Apatow films, and director Nick Stoller conveyed it well in his previous film, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but this movie doesn’t seem to want to dig too much deeper than daddy issues and drug issues, which are dealt with while still resulting in comedy—one scene in which Brand screams at Hill for destroying his drugs seems organic and real, without disrupting the flow of the comedy. The last fifteen minutes or so of this film try a little too hard to deliver some themes of growth and mature relationships, and the results (especially a moment with a threesome) are more awkward than funny. You can still find a happy satisfying ending for your characters without injecting Apatowian growth speeches where they don’t belong.

Still, Stoller has a great ear for comedic timing, and the script crackles with one-liners and outstanding setups for our characters. They manage to pull off a number of grossout jokes that would have been cheaper in other films, because they write the story to fit their gross jokes, but here they fit into the mayhem of the story perfectly and thus blend in. The supporting roles earn as many laughs as the main characters. A couple of celebrities playing themselves receive some of the biggest guffaws in the movie. Rose Byrne never showed me in her previous body of work that she was capable of this level of comedic performance, but she not only holds her own against seasoned vets like Brand and Hill, but she actually takes the audience’s eye away from them. Colm Meaney surprised me in a similar way—the casting in this film reinforces the theory that serious actors can be funny when properly used. While I’d never thought of either of those actors as comedy stars in the past, I’d be excited to see them given bigger roles in broad comedies in the future.

However, the best surprise of all, the one that for me cancelled out any of the slower parts or weaker elements of the film, is P. Diddy’s performance. When growing up listening to Puff Daddy and the Family’s No Way Out, the word “funny” wasn’t one I would have used to describe Sean Combs. The only really funny Diddy appearance on TV was when Dave Chappelle parodied him on Chappelle’s Show. Apparently, Diddy decided to one-up Chappelle’s exaggeration, and he goes wilder than you would imagine. For the first half of the film, he plays a tough music exec with a total straight face, and despite my reservations about him having a major role in the film when he first appeared on screen, he converted me into a fan of his comedy mere minutes into his scene. Halfway through, his character reaches full-blown lunacy—so wild that he scares even Aldous Snow. Diddy never once stumbles or winks at the camera, diving headfirst into the insanity and completely walking away with the film. In a film full of funny bad boys, this Bad Boy reigns supreme.

~ by russellhainline on June 4, 2010.

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