Screen Rant‘s Kofi Outlaw reviews Get Him to the Greek
By now we all know the formula behind a Judd Apatow comedy pretty well, and there are very few departures from it in Get Him to the Greek. Actually, there’s only one surprise, really, and believe it or not, it involves the words “best performance” and “P. Diddy” in one sentence. But more on that later.
Get Him to the Greek, if you don’t already know, is a spin-off of the 2008 “Camp Apatow” comedy, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Greek finds Russell Brand reprising his scene-stealing turn as vain rocker Aldous Snow, who is now a crashed and burned-out version of the pretentiously sober yoga-addict we saw in Sarah Marshall.
Jonah Hill (Superbad) plays Aaron Green, a rock ‘n’ roll fanboy working for a crazy music mogul (Diddy). Green gets the opportunity of his life: jump-start his hero Aldous Snow’s stalled career by throwing a concert celebrating the anniversary of Snow’s greatest tour, which is to be held in 72 hours at L.A.’s famous Greek Theater. All Green has to do is fly to London and pick Snow up; of course things don’t go to plan, and (mild) hilarity ensues.
Greek was directed by Nicholas Stoller (who also directed Sarah Marshall) and was also co-written by Stoller and actor Jason Segel (who both wrote and starred in Sarah Marshall). Judd Apatow blesses the film with his name as a producer.
Like most of the more recent “Camp Apatow” films (Marshall, Funny People), Get to the Greek feels just slightly uneven for most of its runtime. The movie at once wants to be a silly send-up of the music industry, a raunch comedy about the extreme (and shallow) nature of rock star living, and a heartfelt story about how the rock star fantasy compares to the”the good life” valued by the average person (i.e., love, family, friends, etc…) The end result is a movie that is often coherent and engaging at the expense of being laugh-out-loud funny. I found myself mostly chuckling throughout. When I did bust out laughing, however, the reason was one I would have never expected: P. Diddy.
Yes, you heard that right: P. DIDDY. Appearing under his proper name, Sean Combs, Diddy is by far the best thing in Get Him to the Greek, and owns most of the movie’s funniest moments. Playing over-the-top record mogul Sergio Roma, Diddy provides a hilarious send-up of his own Bad Boy image (see what I did there?) and creates a character that I personally think equals Tom Cruise’s wrathful movie mogul Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. In fact, I would pay to see a Les Grossman Sergio Roma team-up onscreen, but I digress…
Who knew that Diddy had such sharp comedic wit? And timing? I sure didn’t. But the proof is there on the screen: not only does Diddy draw laughs from almost every line he delivers and steal every scene he’s in, “Sergio Roma” even manages a few lines of dialogue that are destined to become pop-culture fixations (prepare to hear about “mind-f@#*ing” for the next year). We’ve seen (and tried to forget) Diddy in dramatic roles like Monsters Ball, but comedy seems to be his real onscreen niche – let’s just hope he stays there.
Russell Brand and Jonah Hill do okay as our two leads. Brand’s performance feels like an extended (and slightly diluted) re-tread of his own scene-stealing breakout in Sarah Marshall – but that’s sort of to be expected when reprising what is essentially a one-note (no pun) caricature of ‘the vain and vapid rock star.’ Hill does pretty well playing the geeky straight man caught up in Snow’s web of depravity and insanity. Watching Aaron Green trying (and often failing) to keep step with his cool rock star idol, we can’t help but relate – we’d probably end up looking lame covered in our own vomit if we tried partying like real rock stars for days on end.
Some of the “heartfelt” scenes between mega-star Snow and average-Joe Aaron are pretty good, while others just drag the comedy down. Though with this funny-and-touching kind of comedic formula, you kind of have to take the good with the not so good.
Get Him to the Greek also draws laughs out of its supporting cast and many (often outrageous) celebrity cameos. Rose Byrne (Damages) is great as “Jackie Q,” Aldous Snow’s ex-true love who’s basically a send-up of every sexpot pop star of the last few decades. Staples of the entertainment industry from Kurt Loder to Mario López, Meredith Vieira and Billy Bush all make appearances; there are famous musicians galore (won’t spoil those, keep your eyes peeled) and a couple of famous actors; crossover characters and comedians from the Camp Apatow stable, and even a Nobel Prize-winner (seriously). And after this film, I’ll never be able to look at Elisabeth Moss (Peggy from Mad Men) quite the same way again…
As far as the craftsmanship of the film goes, Stoller does pretty good job at the helm. The takes are pretty funny, they’re shot and edited well, and the pacing and story are coherent and well-managed, with enough improv room left for the funny people to work freely. The look of the film is sharp and even more impressive considering how much additional shooting must have gone into creating the world of a faux celebrity rock star. You know you’re on the right track as filmmakers when you can rope The Today Show into getting down and dirty with you (see above).
Some people are saying that Get Him to the Greek is going to be this year’s Hangover. I’m not co-signing that just yet, but the movie was as pleasantly enjoyable (though uneven) as any other Camp Apatow production – perhaps slightly more so, factoring in the surprise power of P. Diddy’s performance. Is it 40 Year-Old Virgin or Superbad good? Nah – but it’s not Love Guru bad, either. If you liked Aldous Snow in Marshall you’ll probably love him in Greek – if not, then this is one concert you’ll probably want to skip.