Dir: Nicholas Stoller. US. 2010. 108mins
Producer Judd Apatow has enjoyed tremendous success with his raunch-plus-heart approach to comedy, but his latest offering, Get Him To The Greek, suggests that this formula is hardly foolproof. A middling laugher about an uptight music executive and the spoiled rock star he has to chaperone, this follow-up film from Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller and comedian Russell Brand dully follows the Apatow blueprint without much charm or inspiration.
Brand takes centre stage as the fatuously cocksure singer, but Stoller’s episodic screenplay strains to give the British comic enough juicy moments to be amusingly inappropriate.
Opening domestically June 4, Greek seeks to mirror the box-office performance of The Hangover and Apatow’s Knocked Up, two other raunchy comedies that arrived in early June and were sizable hits. Brand’s and co-star Jonah Hill’s rising profiles should give Greek plenty of commercial momentum, but meagre word-of-mouth could limit its theatrical fortunes.
To impress his record-company boss (Sean Combs), Aaron (Hill) travels from Los Angeles to London to retrieve Aldous Snow (Brand), a has-been rock star hoping to revive his career by performing a comeback show in L.A. in three days. But Snow’s infantile behaviour repeatedly delays their journey, putting the concert in jeopardy.
Reprising his role from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Brand takes centre stage as the fatuously cocksure singer, but Stoller’s episodic screenplay strains to give the British comic enough juicy moments to be amusingly inappropriate. Brand’s lanky brashness and Hill’s rotund nebbishness would seem to make for a sure-fire odd-couple pairing, but Greek rarely exploits the actors’ contrasting comedic styles.
More critically, Stoller gracelessly applies Apatow’s brand of shock-inducing adult comedy to unfunny situations, including a witless running joke concerning Aaron’s imperilled rectum. Later, Greek tries to switch gears by introducing mawkish sentimentality involving Aaron’s fragile long-term relationship and Snow’s dysfunctional home life, but these desperate grabs at the heartstrings are as ineffective as the earlier appeals to the funny bone.
Rather confusingly Brand plays exactly the same character as he did in 2008’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, while Jonah Hill’s character is different in name (he played ‘Matthew the Waiter’ in that film) but similar in personality.
Production companies: Relativity Media, Spyglass Entertainment, Apatow Productions
Domestic distribution: Universal Pictures
International distribution: United International Pictures
Executive producer: Richard Vane
Producers: Judd Apatow, Nicholas Stoller, David Bushell, Rodney Rothman
Co-producer: Jason Segel
Screenplay: Nicholas Stoller (based on characters created by Jason Segel)
Cinematography: Robert Yeoman
Production designer: Jan Roelfs
Editors: William Kerr, Mike Sale
Music: Lyle Workman
Main cast: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Elizabeth Moss, Rose Byrne, Colm Meaney, Sean Combs