I caught an advanced screening of Get Him to the Greek yesterday. It's the follow-up to Forgetting Sarah Marshall that follows a junior music executive as he tries to get British rocker/sex fiend/addict Aldous Snow to LA for a live concert at the Greek Theater, just in time to celebrate the tenth anniversary of a previous live concert held there, one that went down in history as being ultra-ultra.
I haven't seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and no one needs to to understand the movie. It's a standalone piece, with one quick nod to the previous film. Jonah Hill isn't even the same character, this time playing Aaron Green, the junior music exec. Russell Brand reprises the role of Aldous, of course, and he's quite good. He manages to find the balance between the heartwarming and the absurd, which is more than can be said for the movie itself. A number of plot points are thrown in, then swiftly forgotten, while more tedious subplots last throughout the film.
Throughout the movie, we are teased with something interesting. You know, like Aldous trying to reconnect with his father (Colm Meaney), or wanting a reunion with his ex-girlfriend (Rose Byrne, displaying surprisingly great comedic chops) and their son, or being forced by the record label to ingest drugs and alcohol so that he can perform, or...you know, anything. We get these little hints of it here and there, but they are sacrificed for montage after montage of Aldous and Aaron partying, always ending with a splash of vomit. Comedy?
Even worse, actually, is that the chief subplot handling the "lessons learned" portion involves Aaron and his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss) navigating their rocky relationship. Who cares? They say funny things, but someone - the director? the writers? the editor? the actors? - lost their humanity. Whether or not they get back together is of no concern to me, because they just aren't interesting people. Their first big fight scene is appallingly mishandled, with Hill's character flying off into a rage for no discernible reason other than that we get the patented Hilarious Rant that the Apatow Brand has, up to now, been so adept at delivering. But when I heard him talking about how she "might as well cut off his balls and put them in her purse", all I could think was, "Zoe*, get out of there! He's potentially abusive! Run!" And that's a shame, because it doesn't fit his character at all; but hey! Women are castrating shrews, amiright?
Now, don't get me wrong, there are a ton of hilarious things happening in this film. Once they get to Vegas, it's ten minutes of pure Heaven. Brand and Meaney play off each other wonderfully and convincingly, and the escalation works hilariously. Once they leave Vegas, though, it's back to Hilarious Moments, Awful Setups. The songs are great, though. And Sean "P. Diddy" Combs steals the show from his co-stars as the crazed label exec calling the shots. Seriously hilarious, every time he appears on screen.
It's a good movie. It's mostly funny, and Brands and Combs are great. In the end, though, it's rushed and clearly not thought out. A pity, since there's a lot of potential.
*(For those who don't know, Zoe was Elisabeth Moss's character on The West Wing. I know she's more famous now for Peggy on Mad Men, but I don't watch Mad Men and I love The West Wing.)