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Non-Review Review: Get Him to the Greek

I quite enjoyed Get Him to the Greek. It wasn’t quite as wonderfully put together as Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but it’s a pleasant little comedy that treads familiar ground, but in a witty and confident manner. The movie isn’t exactly a laugh-a-minute, it is one of the better major releases so far this summer.

Aldous is about to have his world rocked...

Note: My brother and correspondent, Ciaran, reviewed the film earlier in the week. My thoughts aren’t too different than his – save a few details here or there (I maybe liked it a tiny bit more). It’s well worth a read.

The plot is simple. Aaron Green has to escort off-the-wagon rocker Aldous Snow to a concert in LA, simultaneously single-handedly saving the record industry and the career of an artist whose last album, African Child, was “the worst thing to happen to Africa since apartheid”. It’s a simple premise, but simple premises arguably lend themselves best to madcap comedy. The movie is structured as a collection of vignettes on their little adventure together, from London to Los Vegas to Los Angeles. Some are, inevitably, funnier than others – some soar while some fall flat.

It’s always a risky gambit to extend a supporting character to a leading one. Apparently Les Grossman, Tom Cruises’ hilariously antagonistic movie executive from Tropic Thunder, will be getting his own feature film soon. Aldous Snow popped up as part of the quirky ensemble of 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a parody of a shallow sex-crazed rocker (with a hitlist including songs like “Inside of You”), surrounded by quirky characters but managing to somehow steal the show from Dracula muppets. Not an easy task. Still, the role was – at most – one-and-a-half dimensions. Crafting an hour-and-a-half character piece around a one-note character must have offered quite the challenge.

To be honest, it shows. In his debut, the movie centred on the attempt on the part of Peter to come to terms with his break-up and possibly to fall in love all over again. This left room for Aldous to sprout off on random tangents about his own sexual habits or philosophies – he was a recovering alcoholic, but his own unconventional attitudes to romance and sex were shown to work for him. However, here on centre stage, Aldous is shown to want something far more conventional than his rampant orgies and mindless sex – he spends the bulk of the movie pining over his longterm monogomous relationship with “Jackie Q”. It’s only when things fall apart for him that he reverts to his more deviant ways. It’s strange to see the character altered in such a way, but perhaps it comes with a larger role – perhaps there’s only so much quirkiness an audience can take.

While we’re on the subject of sexuality and such, just take a moment to consider the position of Aaron, played rather wonderfully by Jonah Hill. Over the course of the movie, he is ‘violated’ sexually not less than three times – and that discounts a hilariously off-beat “mind-f*ck” from his manager Sergio (and the promise that Aldous will be doing that to him several times). I’m imagining the furore that would have been caused were Aaron a female character. Is there a male equivalent to a feminist? A masculinist, maybe? Anyway, the thought just occurs to me, apropos of nothing.

Who's your (puff) daddy?

The movie seems to have avoided the casting that generally accompanies thee sorts of films. Paul Rudd and Bill Hader are absent, and there are no really cameos from major modern comedians save a tiny appearance by Aziz Ansari. Instead, the movie opts for a quirkily original supporting cast and – in my opinion – it pays off. Colm Meaney simply isn’t in enough stuff, so it’s great to see him here. Elizabeth Moss and Rose Byrne do well in the female supporting roles. And I actually enjoyed Sean Comb’s turn as psychotic records producer Sergio Roma. He isn’t jaw-droppingly impressive, but he handles his scenes well and gives life to this movie’s larger-than-life supporting character (I wouldn’t count on a spin-off, though).

Perhaps the most interesting things the movie has to say concern the record industry itself. Reflecting on the compromises that seemingly need to be made in the modern climate, one executive observes almost mournfully that “this is supposed to be fun”. At an awkward production meeting, Aaron throws out the idea that they all got involved with music because they love, which draws a silently bemused response from the assembled executives. Discussing the future of music, as hyperbole rattles on about “the next big thing”, Aaron has his own unique perspective. His idea – to restage an iconic concert with a once-famous star – suggests that the industry doesn’t need to push outwards with ridiculous acts like “Chocolate Daddy”, but can return to its roots.

Of course, those roots come with their own problems, so I’m not entirely sure the movie has a sincere suggestion on how to deal with the modern crisis in the music industry. Still, the film is soaked in classic music lore. The stop over in Vegas repeatedly evokes the imagery of The Rat Pack. At one point, Sergio observes that “Ozzy Osborne is going to live longer than Miley Cyrus.” I think we all hope his music might, at any rate.

Get Him to the Greek is a solid film. It’s not an amazing one, but it’s a well-put-together one. It’s certainly one of the better offerings of the summer and offers a nice comedic diversion.

4 Responses

  1. My Dad wants to see this. If you enjoyed it than I have no reason not to see it now.

    • Yep. It’s not perfect, not even great, but it’s somewhere between good and very good. I quite enjoyed it.

  2. Raunchy, but plenty of funny dialogue with some surprising emotional weight. Who knew P. Diddy was so hilarious?! Just wish I had something better since a lot of this comedy is just based around one dirty situation, after another. Good review, check out mine when you can!

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