A straightforward comedy with a little substance: impossible, you say?

Get Him to the Greek (2010)
Dir: Nick Stoller
Stars: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand (as himself), Rose Bryne, Elizabeth Moss and Sean Combs

Talk about inserting a movie into the DVD player and having absolutely zero expectation: I started at exactly zero mph with Get Him to the Greek.  Produced by Judd Apatow?  OK.  Jonah Hill?  He’ll always be the kid in Superbad, but I thought he’s been pretty good in other stuff… Russell Brand?  One word – meh.  So, you get my vibe – I was expecting… NOTHING.

Act One had me splitting a gut.  I’m not a big fan of celebrity gossip shows like TMZ, Extra and Entertainment Tonight, but I can’t help seeing these shows a few times a week because they are incessantly on at my gym… The opening of Greek, which is shot in documentary/comedy style (as if TMZ is airing the story) has Aldous Snow producing a single called “African Child”.  This opening was a delicious mixture of spoof, parody and wildly inappropriate background.  The fact that it took me half the movie to recognize his girlfriend Jackie Q as actress Rose Bryne should speak to the unexpected sophistication of the comic acting in this title!

By the end of Act One, we’ve met crazy Aldous, who was actually a character in I Love You Sarah Marshall, his gorgeous girlfriend, his somewhat dorky looking son (sorry) and Aaron Green.  Aaron is one of the many underlings in Sergio Roma’s music production company, and the poor guy has been assigned to go fetch Aldous from London and somehow, someway get him to perform on time in three days time at the Greek theater in L.A.  Let me just say that the preview to Greek completely downplayed Roma’s involvement as a character in the film.  I thought that Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, who played Roma, would serve as a cameo, just a quick stunt with Combs playing a famous producer who would simply get to utter the line, “Get Aldous to the Greek”.  Yeah, not so much.  He ended up being one of the funniest characters in the whole title (See Note 1).

Act Two has many of the bits and pieces shown in the preview: the kind of laughs you’d expect in a title such as this.  Hey!  Russell Brand sure is a crazy rock star!  Aw, man – Jonah Hill has to do something disgusting!  Look at that, Rose Bryne just said “Asshole” in a music video – and she’s dating the drummer from Metallica!  Aw man…

However, this movement of the picture from London, to New York for a Today Show airing (see note 2), to Las Vegas for a visit with Aldous’ dear old Dad (played by veteran character actor Colm Meany – see The Commitments if you never have) all the way to L.A. contained some most unexpected surprises.  In the end, I was reluctantly adding this to the ol’ Netflix cue after seeing The Other Guys a few weeks back.  I try to load the cue with a big mixture of stuff – some drama, a little bit of action/adventure, plenty of thriller/suspense, a handful of foreign films, etc… I was not in a hurry to see a studio comedy after the deafening “thud” that was Other Guys.  But, I hope I’ve convinced you to give Get Him to the Greek a shot. 

Note 1: For anyone who has seen this film, two words – “Mind F$&%”.

Note 2: Regarding some of the blatant product placement in pictures today, it’s getting disgusting.  Within Greek, we had a Sarah Marshall show airing on NBC, we had Today Show cameos, we even had another placement related to the whole NBC/Universal/Big Happy Family Company that escapes me at the moment.  When I watching part of that steaming pile that was called 2012 (directed by the wonderfully creative and destructive Roland Emmerich) the other night, I noticed all of the laptops in the world were built by Sony, the very company who made the film.  Placement in motion pictures sure has changed: we’re no longer limiting ourselves to putting Reece’s Pieces in E.T.  [Oh, and there will be no review or further commentary on 2012, don’t worry.]

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