Jonah Hill is a whisker-faced Weeble who, in "Get Him to the Greek," for once doesn't play the condescending friend who weaponizes his wisecracks into zingers. Weebles aren't supposed to fall down, but Hill, as the beleaguered chaperone to Russell Brand's sozzled rock star, falls down a lot. Backward, forward, sideways, all with a great thump that he barely feels thanks to barrels of booze and clouds of drugs Brand imposes on him.
"Get Him to the Greek" is one big comic thump, a frenzied and profane picaresque that plays, dizzyingly, like a mash-up of "The Hangover," "Midnight Run" and "The Last Detail." In the latter, Jack Nicholson and Otis Young are Navy men charged with transporting a prisoner (Randy Quaid) to the brig in Boston. Quaid's naive 18-year-old is shown the rowdy, drunken side of life by his reckless escorts, learning hard, meaningful lessons along the way.
In "Greek" it's reversed. Hill's the naive one and Brand's the partying madman who dives face-first into a cauldron of debauchery, taking Hill down with him. Hard lessons - unchecked egotism and superficial hedonism will leave you empty and alone - are softly imparted with the kind of sincere if sophomoric sentimentality Judd Apatow, who produced the movie, has peddled in "Knocked Up" and "Funny People" (both of which co-starred a meaner Hill).
Brand's character, famed British musician Aldous Snow, originally appeared in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (as did the ubiquitous Hill, but not as his character here). "Greek" isn't a sequel to the 2008 comedy, just a new venue for Brand's Snow, who was the funniest part of "Sarah Marshall." Nicholas Stoller directed both, with the same visual indifference that marks the late species of Apatowian comedy.
Brand, a popular comedian in Europe, has a remarkable comic confidence and silky articulateness that add up to blinding charisma. He plays the repulsive cad and lizardy narcissist so well that his 11th-hour enlightenment is at best implausible, at worst patronizing. He's too good - or bad - for that.
If Snow's a hackneyed creation - an avatar of rock-star self-destruction, a strutting, sex-crazed cliché - Brand makes him, sometimes hilariously, larger than life (although you will have to decide what constitutes heedless misogyny or mere sex farce). Bejeweled and tattooed, he wears low-riding leather pants, his button-up shirt split open like curtains to show off a chaotic meadow of chest hair. His gum-revealing Mephistophelean smile invariably beams naughty glee. Brand should be a star in America. I'm just not sure what kind.
Hill plays Aaron Green, a lowly intern at a record company run by Sean "P. Diddy" Combs' dictatorial Sergio Roma. (Combs' Zenlike bombast is very funny.) Roma assigns Hill to fetch Snow from London and ferry him to the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles for a 10th anniversary concert comeback. He has three days.
Snow has other ideas. One: Sex. Two: Drugs. Three: Alcohol. Somewhere in there is rock 'n' roll, but that can wait.
Snow is described as one of the "last remaining rock stars." He's something between the fallen Axl Rose and the crawling-back Bret Michaels. Getting him to the Greek becomes an almost impossible task, what with Snow commandeering the journey with prolonged pit-stops in New York and, God forbid, Las Vegas. Aaron, now more like an obedient baby sitter - an "affable nitwit" - discovers the pleasures of letting loose, yet, a stand-up guy, he never loses sight of his job or the important things in life, such as his trusting girlfriend, played by the nerdy Elizabeth Moss of "Mad Men."
Overlong and taxing, "Get Him to the Greek" revels in its sloppiness, its haphazard lunacy and ragged edges, all of which amount to a rambunctious charm. It's dispensable fun, and its indulgences lead to spasms of Dada.
At its wildest moments, the film leaves Earth before plummeting back with that big, concussive thump.
'Get Him to the Greek'
Our grade: B+
Running Time: 109 min
MPAA rating: R
Release Date: June 4, 2010
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