Apatow Productions returns with a vengeance. Walking into a Judd Apatow production, one should know what to expect, and while it may not be quite up to par with the heartfelt, honest, and brilliantly hilarious beast that was 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) returns to the big screen in even more larger than life fashion along with Sarah Marshall co-star Jonah Hill in a new role in Get Him to the Greek.
Jason Segel, who conjured up these characters and wrote Sarah Marshall, is still on board as a co-producer. This time around it’s director Nicholas Stoller who’s in control on paper and behind the camera once again. In these kinds of films it’s always hard to tell what was scripted and what came out in the improvisation on set but, rest assured, this tale of a washed up rock 'n' roller is far from the letdown that some people have said it is.
Aldous Snow is living a sober life now, thanks mostly to splitting up with the love of his life, pop star Jackie Q. (Rose Byrne), after the abysmal release of Snow’s last single “African Child.” After the song is deemed “worst single of the decade,” Snow has a falling out with the industry and has also decided to try the sober life. But, of course, it’s only a matter of time before he’s back to his bad boy antics and all hell breaks loose as he becomes another paparazzi favorite.
In Los Angeles, Aaron Green (Hill) is living a quiet dream of working in the music industry under the reign of Sergio Roma (the surprisingly funny Sean Combs, who’s obviously spent way too much time around people such as he’s portraying). Sergio knows that his record label, Pinnacle, is floundering and needs a game changer. Sergio calls upon Aaron because he is sitting through the meeting so quietly and asks him for an idea. Aaron suggests a 10-year anniversary concert of Snow’s last record-breaking concert held at L.A.’s Greek Theater.
At first Sergio is resistant to the idea, as he knows what kind of person they’d be dealing with in Snow, but Sergio comes around and sends Aaron personally to bring Snow to the States in hopes of the concert kicking off a new tour and resurrecting Snow’s career. Aaron tries discussing his new assignment with his long-term girlfriend Daphne (Elizabeth Moss), who informs him that she has been offered a residency in Seattle and he’s moving there with her to his chagrin. After the world’s most understated couple's fight, Aaron takes off for London to kick start his own future.
With Snow in his grasp and 72 hours until showtime, Aaron realizes he is the only person who has any faith that Snow can truly make a comeback. He thinks that discussing Snow’s future with him from a fan’s perspective is the right way to approach things. Soon Aaron learns that old habits die hard, and he’s whisked along on a buddy road trip stretching from London to New York City to L.A., along with a quick pit stop in Las Vegas to see Snow's dearly estranged father/ex-manager Jonathan (Colm Meaney), but not without the requisite alcohol, drugs, orgies, and Sarah Marshall herself (Kristen Bell) along the way.
Director Stoller manages to give Aldous Snow, no longer a side character, his own spin-off film that totally manages to breathe on its own. While Hill is not returning in the same role, the chemistry between the two leads is completely believable, whether they are having what appear to be heart-to-hearts or moments of intensity when Snow seems like a saber-tooth ready to rip Aaron to shreds. A lot of credit is due to Brand being able to stay in character, but he appears to be having so much fun as Snow that it’s no wonder he keeps himself in check. But Brand also brings a darker sense to the character in this outing, making you question just how crazy he is, even if Aaron is continually pointing it out.
Another thing Stoller brings to the table is his sense of timing and pacing. However, not all is perfect. There is one scene near the end in particular that is completely out of place, goes on far too long, and should have been cut altogether. It drags the shenanigans to a screeching halt and almost makes the audience second-guess whether they should have ever had any empathy for Snow, Aaron, or even Daphne. It wouldn’t be so bothersome if it didn’t come immediately after a scene giving Snow almost too much humanity for the character’s own good.
Thankfully, the rest of the film is filled with a cast giving their all to make you laugh hard (and way too often) and a director with a spectacular sense for cutaway gags. Get Him to the Greek is chock full of so many hilarious sight gags and throwaway lines that most would require a second viewing to catch the funnier ones, as they follow an already side-splitting moment and the audience will be laughing too hard to hear.
As if the film wasn’t already funny enough, producers Segel and Apatow contribute writing credits to multiple humorous songs on the soundtrack. With how much these songs seem like real singles, I personally wouldn’t mind a real Aldous Snow concert because Brand carries the presence of a true rock star on stage and off.
Photo courtesy Universal Pictures