Despite the fact that Nicholas Stoller's directorial debut, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, might just be my favorite of the Team Apatow productions*, I was not exactly excited for the latest Apatow Productions film, Get Him to the Greek.
*Now, it should be noted that Step Brothers is a film that I've seen approximately 30 times (unfortunately, none of those times were in the theater). It's weird because despite the fact that the Apatow Productions title card is in front of the film it feels like this is not a product of Team Apatow. Perhaps it's the "Freaks and Geeks"-lessness of the cast, but they seem only loosely related to one another. I do love Step Brothers but am reluctant to put it in the conversation with the other Apatow products.
Yes, I really loved FSM, but a lot of Get Him to the Greek relies on Jonah Hill, something I was reticent about heading into the film. Generally speaking, I like almost all of the films Hill has been in, yet I often feel like he is one of the weaker links in the film. While he is certainly capable of being very funny, there is something about his energy that can be off-putting. Luckily for us all, Get Him to the Greek is not a film in which that holds true.
Since my reluctance (and I do not believe I am alone in this) lied in the film's obvious reliance upon Hill, I will start by talking about him. As the regular music fan who got into the music industry because of his fandom, Hill's character, Aaron Green, is ideally constructed to suit his strengths. He isn't supposed to play anything that lies outside of his wheelhouse. As a regular dude who has ceded any semblance of a social life to his girlfriend's schedule and her desire to watch "Gossip Girl" (or maybe it was "Grey's Anatomy") on DVD, Jonah Hill is not only believable but also likable.
With the potential dilemma of Hill having been addressed, the success of the film lies largely on the shoulders of Russell Brand, whose reprisal of the character Aldous Snow is pitch-perfect. He is larger than life and unabashedly self-centered. As the caricature of the drug-addled rock star with a posse of enablers, Brand hits every note with aplomb. It is Snow's ridiculously destructive and self-serving behavior that drives much of the comedy and nearly all of the drama within the film. When he is called on to have a withdrawal-fueled freak out, he kills. When called on to deliver the bloated pomposity that is "African Child," he imbues the song with a clueless sincerity not matched since Paul McCartney ripped off David Hasselhoff* for his egregious post-9/11 *cough* anthem "Freedom."
*This reminds me that despite my repeated assertions about Rocky IV and the David Hasselhoff performance above having won the Cold War, I've not blogged about it in this space. For this, I am sorry. Hopefully I'll have the time in the near future to tackle this at length and in detail.
Now Brand is great to be sure, but he is not alone. In his limited role as the executive at the label, Sean Combs is outstanding. From the dressing down of his employees in the staff meeting to his on-set argument with Pharrell, he is hilarious. More surprising (because if you remember Made, Combs's hilarity isn't necessarily unprecedented) is how fucking amazing Rose Byrne is as Snow's ex-lover Jackie Q. Seriously. If you need proof, I'll refer you to the shockingly lewd anal sex single embedded below (stick around through the end).
Despite my hesitancy to embrace Byrne in years past, I am fully on board, as she has been great in everything I've seen her in for a few years now.
Past the cast though, the film works. At its heart, Get Him to the Greek--as so many of the Team Apatow films are--is a film about male bonding and the perils of getting too close to your idol. On both counts, Stoller & Co. succeed. Despite all his faults, Snow ultimately finds value in what Green brings to the table, on a personal and professional label, even if he ends up vomiting on himself at least once a day.