by Matt Brunson
By Matt Brunson
GET HIM TO THE GREEK
DIRECTED BY Nicholas Stoller
STARS Jonah Hill, Russell Brand
A semi-sequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek is the latest film to emerge from the Judd Apatow factory, which means the picture will take great pains to show it can be sweet and sincere while simultaneously dishing out the sort of vulgar gags that have become the status quo in modern comedy. In this instance, it translates into good news for everyone: Those who prefer an emotional center in their comedies will appreciate the inclusion of this material, while those who attend strictly for the nyuks will be thankful that the soul-searching is primarily reserved for the last act.
Still, a film of this nature relies far more heavily on humor than heart, and Get Him to the Greek turns out to be a hit-and-miss affair. Not as ambitious or accomplished as Forgetting Sarah Marshall (both were directed by Nicholas Stoller and produced by Apatow), it's a shaggy tale containing a fair number of jokes that miss their intended targets by a wide berth. But the bits that do work and there are many are comic gold; fans of raunchy cinema can do far worse.
Reprising his Forgetting role, Russell Brand again plays rock star Aldous Snow, whose popularity has chilled following the release of African Child, an album (and title track) so disastrously received that critics claim it's the worst thing to ever happen to Africa next to war, famine and apartheid. Now a drunken lout, Aldous is still idolized by record label flunky Aaron Green (Jonah Hill), who convinces his boss Sergio (an animated Sean "P. Diddy" Combs) that the fallen rocker is primed for a comeback concert. Sergio agrees and sends Aaron to collect Aldous in London and bring him back to L.A. Of course, nothing goes as planned, with Aldous proving to be a difficult client and Aaron having his hands full trying to keep the self-centered celebrity out of trouble.
Finally given a role that requires him to do more than whine on cue, Hill proves to be a potent fall guy, while Brand again makes the wise decision to play Aldous as an airhead who may not be as shallow as everyone believes. The two actors work well together, and the savvy casting extends to the amusing cameo appearances by celebrities from different media (a Harry Potter actor, a Metallica musician and a New York Times columnist, to be exact). And if a joke seems forced or not particularly funny, there's no reason to fret, as another will be momentarily trotted out, eager to bask in the glow of audience approval.