Every summer there seems to be a film that surprises and ends up being the comedy of the summer. Last summer it was The Hangover. This summer it looked like the frontrunner was Get Him to the Greek, a film based on a character first seen in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008). Get Him to the Greek is hilarious and Russell Brand is a treasure, but the film becomes clouded in its side story about morality. The film was written by Jason Segel, who wrote the screenplay for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but the film forces you to empathize with Jonah Hill's character. He is not a likable character and I feel that in the real world he would not be good at his job and would never be given the same opportunity. It is the second film directed by Nicholas Stoller, who directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and is also responsible for the screenplay of two Jim Carrey films I have no interest in seeing, Fun with Dick and Jane (2005) and Yes Man (2008). The common link amongst these men is Judd Apatow. In recent years he has directed and produced some very successful films. I feel that Get Him to the Greek strayed from its original point of view, a story about a man trying to get a trouble rock star to a gig, and ending up becoming a film about how their friendship and experiences gave them both profound revelations. Maybe I found Jonah Hill whined too much, or his facial hair and disheveled appearance made him just seem like a loser, but I did not find his role believable and that made it even harder for me to stomach the end of the film. I wanted Get Him to the Greek to be stay a cheap and raunchy comedy and I was disappointed that Jason Segel had to turn a well-conceived comedy into a boring life lesson.
Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) is an international rock star with a celebrated career until the release of his most recent album and the single African Child. The song and the music video are panned and Aldous goes into a downward spiral with drugs and alcohol. To further his pain, his girlfriend, Jackie Q (Damages' Rose Byrne), leaves him and takes their son, Naples. Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is a talent scout at Pinnacle Records and, when asked for money-making ideas, suggests doing a ten year anniversary concert for Aldous Snow at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. His boss, Sergio Roma (Diddy), is initially unconvinced but eventually agrees and sends Aaron to London to accompany Aldous to Los Angeles by way of New York for an interview on the Today Show. Aaron's girlfriend Daphne (Mad Men's Elizabeth Moss) is a doctor doing her internship and her busy schedule hinders their relationship. Before leaving for London Aaron and Daphne have an argument about the future and Aaron leaves believing that they have broken up. In London he finds it tough to get Aldous on a plane. Aldous is childish and immature and drags Aaron to different bars and clubs, where Aaron has an encounter with a stranger. When they finally arrive in New York Aaron drinks all the liquor in the car so that Aldous will appear on the show completely sober. Aldous is unable to remember the lyrics to African Child and on an earlier suggestion from Aaron he performs one of his earlier hits. In a turn of events that completely ruin the film's focus the two men end up in Las Vegas in search of Aldous' father (Colm Meany). Aaron has such difficulty getting Aldous to L.A. that Sergio shows up. The film turns for the worst in a scene at a nightclub where the four men get into a fistfight and Aaron gets high. When they finally arrive in Los Angeles Aldous' show is in jeopardy after a visit with Jackie Q. To parallel Aldous' struggles, Aaron's attempt to reunite with Daphne also hits a roadblock.
For more than half of Get Him to the Greek the film is hilarious and enjoyable, but when the duo get to Las Vegas it becomes painfully clear that both Aaron and Aldous are headed for a life lesson. Are the chain of events that follow unreasonable and out of character? No, but it takes the focus away from the original story that had a lot of potential. Get Him to the Greek is advertised as a raunchy comedy and I see no reason why it had to become a tale of morality. Jason Segel does have talent as an actor and a writer but this film either shows a lack of discipline or too much intervention from the studio. I have a major complaint about the style department and whoever was responsible for Jonah Hill. I do not think that anyone working in the music industry would dare to look so slovenly. Add the permanent five o'clock shadow and I was turned off and found little reason to empathize with him. Elizabeth Moss, a talented actress who deserves recognition for her terrific role on Mad Men is completely underused and given little to work with. I will say the only performance I truly enjoyed was Rose Byrne. It was so out of character from her work on Damages and did a great job with Jackie Q, especially the music video sequences that were quite scandalous. Next time lets just have a comedy about a self obsessed rock star without a life lesson. Did The Hangover have a moral? Probably, but we were all too busy laughing to care.
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.