Russell Brand reprises his role as rockstar caricature Aldous Snow in “Get Him to the Greek,” a listless comedy that only aspires to be funny enough to keep the audience’s attention.
Written and directed by “Yes Man” writer Nicholas Stoller, “Get Him to the Greek” follows young A&R man Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) as he tries to get his hero Aldous Snow to the Greek Theater in time for him to perform a tenth anniversary concert. All while being hounded by his boss Sergio Roma (Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs) and dealing with a rocky relationship with his live-in girlfriend Daphne (Elisabeth Moss).
“Get Him to the Greek” operates in two modes: Rampant urgency and deliberate sluggishness. Unsurprisingly, the level of activity is highly dependent on whether or not Brand is on-screen.
In “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” Aldous Snow was an ancillary character, whose ridiculousness helped break up the somewhat heavy-handedness of Jason Segel’s character and script. He was used sparingly throughout the movie and to Brand’s credit was clever and funny enough to become memorable.
But giving a supporting character their own spin-off movie is a lot like giving a supporting actor in an ensemble his own sitcom. Suddenly, the character that was good for a laugh and the occasional stolen scene has to have a backstory, a love interest and all of the other tropes necessary for a traditional drama or comedy.
Given the utter absurdity of Aldous Snow and the rock ‘n’ roll world he lives in, it’s amazing how closely Stoller followed this model. The movie opens with Snow on top of the world. He and his beautiful girlfriend are about to release his most ambitious album yet. But not soon after, the album bombs, his girlfriend leaves him and Snow ends his sobriety and begins shagging poptarts like P!nk and Christina Aguilera.
While some of these scenes come off with an air of forced wackiness, Snow’s bad behavior and getting to watch Brand ad lib and strut his way through the movie is easily the best part of “Get Him to the Greek.” A particular scene that finds Brand and Hill running from a crazed P. Diddy is the movie’s highlight.
But past Snow’s bad behavior and an inspired cameo by Lars Ulrich as Snow’s antagonist, is a movie that piles on dramatic subplots, but never really capitalizes on any of them. Snow has daddy issues, Snow has girlfriend issues, Green and his girlfriend have their own issues and there’s an underdeveloped comment on fame and its corrupting properties that pops up whenever its convenient.
Hill, who has always been better as a supporting player, has his hands tied comedically, as he’s forced to play the straight man to Brand’s lunatic. Hill gets a few solid ad libs, but never really seems comfortable in his role. And finally, there’s P. Diddy. While its ironic to have a real-life record mogul play a warped, eccentric record mogul, Diddy’s delivery and ad libs bring nothing to the character past the surface irony, resulting in a gimmick that stops being funny almost immediately.
When “Get Him to the Greek” is absurd and stops trying to ground its crazy characters with forced and tired dramatic devices, it’s pretty damn funny. The problem is that the movie only does that a handful of times. “Get Him to the Greek” is the funniest comedy of the summer thus far, but considering this summer also brought us “Furry Vengeance,” that’s not exactly a compliment.