Like most unsuspecting Americans, I first encountered the life force that is Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall—a film he pretty much stole out from under stars Jason Segal and Kristen Bell. His rock star Aldous Snow was cheerfully depraved: Patti-Smith-skinny in poured-on leather pants, gifted with a stoner-philosopher’s addled wisdom, willing to shag or smoke anything in front of him, and blissfully untroubled by the havoc he wreaked. I thought he was hilarious and—here’s the key— oddly endearing. I also wondered if the actor could play anyone else.
Well, we won’t find out just yet because in Get Him to the Greek, Brand’s Aldous Snow rides again, only this time, he’s the centerpiece of the movie. (Brand has also been tapped as Arthur in a remake of the Dudley Moore classic—an inspired bit of casting, albeit a character not too far off from Snow.)
Brand is paired up with Jonah Hill, the roly-poly, deadpan actor who is best when he’s playing a slightly cowed good guy, as he does here. Hill plays Aaron, a low-ranking guy at a record company run by the megalomaniac Sergio (a funny Sean “Puffy” Combs). Aaron’s assignment is to collect Snow from England and first bring him to L.A. for the 10 year anniversary of Snow’s triumphant concert at the Greek Theatre.
Sounds easy enough, until you consider the fact that Snow is a drug addict who is hard-wired to follow his own bliss. Trying to pull him out of the club—or off the body of a female groupie—proves to be a fulltime job, especially when Snow is initiating Aaron into the glory of his hedonistic ways. (Aaron is far too neurotic for a world of drugs and sex without consequences—but he gives it the old college try).
Get Him to the Greek is pretty much hilarious all the way through, except for the few times it tries to get serious, as when it explores Snow’s relationship with his estranged father (Colm Meaney) or when Aaron gets genuinely peeved at Snow’s destructive narcissism. It’s in those somewhat awkward moments— wait? are we supposed to be laughing here or not?—that we realize the film hasn’t quite achieved comedy nirvana. Still, Get Him to the Greek sure made me laugh.