Director Nicholas Stoller proved with Forgetting Sarah Marshall that he's one of the most adept filmmakers in Hollywood when it comes to fusing extremely raunchy humor with heartfelt love stories. The result was a film that made you really care about the characters and left you clutching at your aching ribs from all the laughing.
Therefore, it's with no surprise that Get Him to the Greek would be held to the same standards Stoller set up for himself, being not only his follow up to Sarah Marshall, but an of offshoot/sequel to that film as well. Does it measure up?
Although Get Him to the Greek is in and of itself a highly entertaining, hilarious and at times heartwarming film, it lacks the broad, familiar connection to the characters that Sarah Marshall had, and therefore, will probably find a smaller audience. Missing too is the sex appeal stars like Mila Kunis and Kristen Bell offered the previous film. But that's not to say Greek isn't good.
The film works largely because Russell Brand and Jonah Hill are surprisingly good actors. Brand brings more depth and consciousness to Aldous Snow, who in Sarah Marshall was just face value comic relief. We get the sense in Greek that he's actually a real person with real feelings that get hurt and cause him to be a vapid, drugged out rock star to cope with the pain. Sure, he still makes some crappy music and he's largely a parody of modern rock and pop stars, but this time we get to see what makes him tick, and it's actually interesting and meaningful. Of particular note are the scenes between Snow and his dad, played vigorously by Colm Meany, where we get to see the root of Aldous' problems.
Hill gets to step out of random punchline mode to play the straight guy Aaron Green, and it works really well. You believe that he's a lowly executive assistant for a soulless music mogul, stuck in what seems to be a go-nowhere relationship with a cute nurse whose waking hours occupy the opposite half of the clock. He has good things going for him, but never seems to be able to get what he really wants out of life, a sentiment that I think many of us can relate to. It's very clear from the first shot in Green's apartment, one of a wall-sized shelf full of vinyl albums organized High Fidelity style, that his aspirations are to be more than just a record executive's bitch, but a creator of his own music.
Adding some pepper to the mixture is a tenacious Sean "Diddy" Combs turning in an amusing depiction of record executive Sergio Roma, a poster child for the business side of the music industry- for better or for worse. Roma has a staff of minions that do his bidding, and is clearly not used to being told "no." In one scene in particular, Roma makes it abundantly clear, in a rather humorous fashion, that one of his areas of expertise is mind games. In a later scene, he pushes this expertise to the limit, making both Green and the audience wonder if perhaps he's just insane.
The plot is rather straightforward: Aaron proposes a 10 year anniversary concert for Infant Sorrow, the name of Snow's band, to be played at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, as a way to quickly generate millions in ticket revenue, advertising and to boost sales of the company's back catalog of Infant Sorrow records. The money hungry Roma finds it to be a good idea (even though the mindfucker in him shoots down Green in the meeting) and tasks the young assistant to fly to London to escort Snow first to the Today Show in New York and then the Greek Theater in Los Angeles, all within 72 hours. As if that wasn't enough to handle, Green's live-in girlfriend breaks up with him because she wants to move to Seattle to take a better job. So off Green goes to meet one of his idols, newly single and totally unprepared for the insanity of rock star life.
The heart of the film is really the emergence of the relationship between Aaron Green and Aldous Snow. Green is a fan of Snow's work (except for his last album, African Child, which everyone else though was crap too), and at first, Aldous couldn't be less impressed, deciding rather to drag Green through the mud than make it easy for him to accomplish the task of escorting him to America. After missing several flights and puking an ungodly amount in one night, Aaron manages to shuffle the rocker to Heathrow airport and over the pond to New York, with only minutes to spare before his Today show appearance.
The first bond between the pair is made when, after being unable to remember the words to his last single, African Child, Aldous takes a suggestion from Green and instead plays one of his older hits, The Clap, for the live audience. It is here where we see the first inkling of trust and friendship emerge, which only strengthens after more nights of raucous partying and a pit stop in Las Vegas to see Aldous' dad, all while the start time of the concert at the Greek nears closer and closer.
Greek's pinnacle isn't so much in the comedy department, but in the realization that this seemingly empty train wreck of a human being is really a victim of celebrity and excess. All he wants and needs is someone who can be his friend, someone who cares about him and doesn't just want to use him. It points out all the flaws of the entertainment industry, with executives who don't see the artists as people, but merely profit generators. They don't see music as art, but as a product, as evidenced early on in the film during one of Roma's meetings. Only money matters, and they have no scruples about sending wounded rockers on stage when they desperately need medical attention, or enabling their chemical addictions. It's a big part of why the music industry has been in financial ruin.
In the end, it doesn't matter whether or not Aldous Snow makes it to the Greek on time, only that he makes it because he wants to perform, because he wants to make his fans happy. It doesn't matter whether or not Aaron Green accomplishes the task assigned to him, only that he chooses to pursue what makes himself happy. This is the real journey of the film, and it's a reason why it's a good movie. It may not be as big on laughs or love as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but taken on its own, Get Him to the Greek is well worth the ticket.