Silver Screen: Get Him to the Greek ***

Get Him to the Greek
Bryan Miller

In the 2008 comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the title character jilts a lovable mope played by writer Jason Segel in favor of egomaniacal reformed-addict rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). It's a very funny movie, and one of its little unexploded bombs was the constant taunt that Aldous might tumble off the wagon spectacularly at any moment. That moment finally comes in Get Him to the Greek, a spinoff following the Infant Sorrow lead singer, who reaches his personal nadir after the release of the hilariously awful single "African Child," a callous pop song in which he posits himself as a "white Christ" come to rescue starving tots in war-torn "Darfur or Rwanda or one of those places." He's egged back into a lifestyle of drinking and drugs by his sexpot singer girlfriend Jackie Q. (the usually bloodless Rose Byrne, here looking like liquid sex), who shortly thereafter jilts him for a succession of stars culminating in the odious Lars Ulrich. Untethered from his main squeeze and his young son, and in freefall on the Billboard charts, Aldous goes on an epic bender. At the same time, a stooge for a foundering record company, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill, not reprising his obsessive fanboy role from Forgetting Sarah Marshall), hits upon an idea to help revitalize Aldous's floundering career: a ten-year anniversary show celebrating the recording of Infant Sorrow's classic live album from the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. Aaron's half-crazy boss Sergio (a surprisingly kind of funny P. Diddy) tasks his underling with flying to England, retrieving the falling star, and bringing him back in time for the concert. That sets up the road-movie shenanigans, which aren't exceptionally unique, but which score plenty of laughs. Get Him to the Greek is at its best when it's a trippy, booze-fueled odyssey, the apex of which features Aaron hallucinating P. Diddy eating a series of his own tiny, floating heads, Pac Man-style. The unlikely duo bounce from London bars to a Today Show appearance in New York (featuring Paul Krugman, the unlikeliest of the litany of celebrity cameos) to Las Vegas and eventually the City of Angels, where Aldous must come to terms with his shady father (Colm Meaney), his tattered family life, and personal legacy. The movie stumbles the most when it tries to deal seriously with the characters' relationships, especially Aaron's troubled union with his doctor girlfriend (the fatally adorable Elisabeth Moss). Their subplot, which eventually degenerates into a way-way-off-key sequence straight out of Chasing Amy, is absolutely extraneous and poorly conceived. It works best as a series of interrelated sketches, which it mostly is. Brand's real-life comedic persona is fairly obnoxious, but he's nicely suited to playing an enthusiastically clueless rock star. Hill, an incredibly funny guy, is the movie's comedic anchor; he's equally adept at the broader scenes-- he scores particularly high marks in the sequence in which he's revitalized with an adrenaline shot-- and the quieter, more awkward moments. The whole production doesn't quite match Forgetting Sarah Marshall's big laughs, and certainly not its more touching, personal moments, but it's a solid comedy that nicely captures a summer-party vibe. ***