Posted by: viewfromacouch | August 20, 2010

GET HIM TO THE GREEK: These are not the characters you are looking for.

I saw this movie a while ago, but was too caught up in Inception to write a review. I’ll try to keep this one brief, as it’s not quite fresh in my mind. Still, I know exactly what I want to say about it. So without further ado…

Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is a fledgling record company A&R scout. His boss Sergio (P. Diddy) knows what anyone with access to the internet must — that the music industry has been hit hard by file-sharing. Tasked with coming up with an idea that will “save the industry”, Aaron plans his dream concert: to resurrect the career of Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) with a 10th Anniversary show at Los Angeles’s Greek Theater. With Sergio’s approval, Aaron has 72 hours to get Aldous to L.A.. But can he Get Him To The Greek in time? …come on, is there really any doubt?

Halfway through Get Him To The Greek I was convinced it was the best thing Judd Apatow had ever produced. This is no faint praise, either. Funny People was a personally affecting and hilarious film, one of 2009’s best, and remains one of my all-time favourite comedies. Then of course there’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the creative birthplace of Aldous Snow and the film from which this is a spin-off — itself a personal and uproarious comedy.

Unfortunately, the movie just can’t sustain itself. … Perhaps that’s incorrect. It can, but chooses not to. How much does the third act get wrong? It would be spoilerish of me to get into specifics, so lets just say…everything. It bungles everything.

In discussing the film with a friend, he brought up “Apatow morality”. Most Apatow films are morality plays, ironically wrapped in lewdness and profanity. They’re about growing up, personal maturation or the importance of family. And within the context of his other films, from The 40-Year-Old Virgin, to Superbad or Knocked Up, these morals work for those films’ character arcs. But they don’t work for this film, because they don’t work for Aldous Snow.

I understand the character arc that writer-director Nicholas Stoller was trying to build for Aldous Snow in this film. I understand that the third act needs to be somewhat uncomfortable if this lovable asshole is to “hit bottom”. But it doesn’t work, because it never feels honest. And that’s the biggest problem with this movie: Aldous Snow never feels like the same character he was in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

One of the best things about FSM is that the “villains” could easily be shallow and hateable caricatures. But they aren’t. Jason Segel’s script is too good for that. They aren’t good people, but even at their worst they’re relateable on some level. Aldous Snow is a cocky wanker, but he’s still cool, personable and intelligent in his own way. Throw all that out the window for this movie. Stoller wrote this script and not Segel, and funny though it may be, the film suffers for it.

Get Him To The Greek’s incarnation of Aldous is an intolerable, selfish, moody, self-righteous boor, as shallow and thin-skinned as he could have been in FSM, but wasn’t. I won’t lie and say it makes him unfunny, because he’s still hilarious. But when the morality play kicks in in the final act, it’s an unwelcome buzzkill. Not because the audience doesn’t want to see Aldous grow as a character, but because the character I thought I knew coming into this movie didn’t need to grow in this way.

And this is making no mention of what “growing up” entails for Aaron Green. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that his conclusion infuriated me more than any character differences in our rock-star protagonist. When I said the finale bungles everything, I meant it.

Still, I don’t want to slag the movie too hard. The first half is really quite tremendous. For all its faults, it’s still full of big laughs, loaded with great cameos (both by real musicians and talented comedians in bit roles) and buoyed by a stellar supporting cast. Colm Meaney and Rose Byrne are particularly hilarious, and Diddy acquits himself well as a comedic actor. I hope to see him in more comedies in the future.

In short, while Aaron does manage to get Aldous Snow to The Greek in time, they lose the movie on the way. And it’s a shame.

Everything up to “Furry Walls”: 9.0/10 | A

Everything after “Furry Walls”: 4.0/10 | F

Weighted Average: 6.9/10 | C+

A number that Aldous Snow would be proud of, but Nicholas Stoller should not be.

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