GET HIM TO THE GREEK
DIR: Nicholas Stoller
CAST: Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Sean Combs,
Elisabeth Moss, Rose Byrne
Another week, another juvenile comedy that makes me question whether (at the ripe old age of not quite 29) I’m a grumpy old man, or whether it’s just that most comedies these days really just aren’t very funny. To be fair there are a few jokes in Get Him to the Greek (a spin off from the overrated, but at least somewhat amusing, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) that get laughs, notably a recurring cameo from Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich, but frankly I found most of it juvenile and rather tedious.
Russell Brand basically plays himself as cocky, drug addled rock star Aldous Snow, and he doesn’t even do that especially well. The film desperately tries to give him some depth, through relationships with Rose Byrne’s Lady Gaga-ish pop star Jackie Q (a joke that wears thin roughly three seconds in, though that may be because I fucking loathe Lady Gaga) and with their young son Naples (gosh, what an hilarious and timely riff on Brooklyn Beckham’s name, well done movie). It’s defeated in this pursuit of actual character by two things, the first is Brand’s utter lack of ability to act; all he really does is stand around being Russell Brand and saying random weird things. The second problem is with the editing; if you’ve seen the trailer you’ll notice huge swathes of material that has evidently been deleted from the final film, and you can feel every cut here. The story with Naples has a twist that ought to have provided an emotional moment, but it’s never mentioned again, and the story with Jackie Q also feels hugely truncated. Poor editing doesn’t just impact the story, it persists throughout the film, perhaps most glaring is Tom Felton’s (Draco from Harry Potter) cameo, where an extremely rude word has very clearly been cut, bringing the scene to a very abrupt end.
Jonah Hill does his usual thing, not badly, but like Brand there’s really not much acting going on here. There’s a real problem with putting these two together in what is essentially a buddy comedy, because neither is really acting at all there’s nothing to invest you in the relationship between them. We’re told over and over that Hill’s character is a huge fan of Snow and his band Infant Sorrow, but that fails to ring true because their music is spectacularly awful. I’ve no problem with the idea that terrible cock rock might be popular (though it’s certainly not the way the charts are trending right now), but I don’t buy Hill’s character being into it. The other bands he plays and discusses here are names like The Mars Volta and Pixies, and given that taste I just don't buy him listening to Snow's music. In leaning too heavily on the parody elements in Snow’s songs (ridiculous lyrics and titles abound) the film sacrifices credibility, because when Snow plays his triumphant show (and if that’s considered a spoiler then clearly you’ve never seen a movie before) I just didn’t buy the idea that anyone thought this guy’s career was worth reviving after ten years.
One performance is worth mentioning though. Elisabeth Moss, who I fell for when I saw her in The West Wing, has a rather thankless role as Hill’s girlfriend, but she really makes the most of it. In the early scenes there’s a lovely warmth between them which, despite the fact that physically they make a very odd couple, makes that relationship one you can buy into and later on she’s pretty funny.
It isn’t that the rest of Get Him to the Greek is terrible; it’s just not very good. It isn’t funny enough, largely because most of the jokes are essentially the same joke. It’s not very engaging, because for the most part there are no characters and no acting. It’s not very convincing, because the music is awful and it’s not very satisfying, because several of the storylines appear to have been pureed during editing. If you like modern mainstream comedy more than I do then you’ll probably like this, but frankly I’m just weary of the same jokes, and of not laughing very much.