Remember Aldous Snow, the selfish, over-sexed British rocker who pretty much stole the movie in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”? The character is a carry-over in “Get him to the Greek,” a new Judd Apatow-produced comedy that not only does a better job of making the rocker funny, but also finds his humanity.
We first see Snow, played by comedian Russell Brand, in a hilarious music video for his new single “African Child,” a song based on African genocide where Aldous casts himself as a “white African space Christ.” The song is a universal failure, and that, coupled with a brutal on-air break-up from his pop-star girlfriend (Rose Byrne), is enough to send him spiraling down toward alcohol, drugs, and random sex.
It’s a perfect time for low-level record label employee Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) to try and get the rocker on a plane from London to LA. Green, a huge Snow fan, has been dispatched by his boss Sergio (Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs) to straighten out the rocker just enough so that he can do a “Today Show” appearance followed by a ten-year anniversary concert at the Greek theater, celebrating one of the biggest milestones in Snow’s career. The request turns out to be easier said than done.
This is a really good role for Jonah Hill, who reacts so well to whatever abuse is thrown at him. Aaron soon finds himself plunged into Aldous’ wild world, where drinking absinthe, smuggling heroin up the butt (if you have to sneeze, remember to clench first), smoking a really packed blunt (known as a Jeffrey), and three-ways are all commonplace. The movie is really one strange encounter after the next and the lack of plot hurts it at times but writer/director Nicholas Stoller (who also directed “Sarah Marshall”) compensates by making these encounters consistently hilarious.
The movie is also profane (Puffy turns every curse into brilliance, being scarily intimidating as he, in Sergio’s words, “mind-fucks”, everyone around him), crude, and has some of the best lines of the year (“African Child” gets the bulk of the abuse. At one point a character says it’s the worst thing to happen to Africa since Apartheid.)
And Brand surprisingly anchors all this beautifully with a performance that never swings into caricature. He’s a merrily bizarre comic performer and Spinal Tap-like singer but also finds Aldous’ tortured soul, taking a character with the usual rocker clichés (daddy issues, a bitchy ex-girlfriend, etc.) and making him sympathetic and rootable. The performances, and a funny script, are more than enough reason to get yourself to the “Greek.”