Movie at a glance
“Get Him to the Greek,” 3 out of 4 stars; 109 minutes; Starring: Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Sean Combs and Rose Byrne.
If the lead character of “Get Him to the Greek” embodies any ideal of modern music, it’s the near-immortality of rock stars, those from the United Kingdom in particular. As another character observes, whoever heard of a dead British rock star?
Other than John Lennon, George Harrison, Keith Moon, Brian Jones, Sid Vicious…
Well, nobody’s perfect.
In the music industry, everyone has a single chance to make a name for themselves, and low-level record label employee Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) has just gotten his opportunity.
Thanks to an idea on his part, his boss Sergio (Sean Combs) has just arranged a comeback concert for rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) — a 10th anniversary celebration of his legendary performance at Los Angeles’s Greek Theatre with his band, Infant Sorrow, which should give a much-needed boost to the musician’s profile and kick-start record sales for the label as a whole.
The good news is that Aaron gets to escort his favorite singer from London back to L.A. The bad news is that Snow’s reputation for living life on the edge is not the least bit exaggerated, and Aaron has to contend with an unceasing stream of drugs, groupies, and any and every whim that enters into his charge’s mind as he tries to wrangle him, kicking and screaming, toward his obligation.
As the character who perpetually draws the short straw during the 72-hour debauchery-fest, Hill is at his funniest since “Superbad” as the young office drone who finds the idealized rock star lifestyle can be downright terrifying, whether it’s going out on a late-night scavenger hunt for heroin or fending off the female fans who throw themselves at Snow and everyone in his entourage.
Returning to the role that made him famous in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” Brand is a whirlwind of hilarity as the once great rock god whose career has gone into a tailspin since the release of a poorly conceived awareness album called “African Child,” dubbed by music critics to be the worst thing to happen to the continent since apartheid.
However, rather than merely treating Snow as the wackiest character in the room, this time around he is treated as a regular guy who just happens to be rock royalty and has a laundry list of emotional problems, most of which can be traced back to his relationship with his ex-girlfriend, model and singer Jackie Q (Rose Byrne). Perhaps his only equal on the party scene, she has also taken custody of their son (Lino Facioli).
But not all musical personalities appearing here are unbalanced, as evidenced by Combs as Aaron’s demanding superior, who is willing to do whatever’s necessary to get Snow on stage. You know your boss is inside your head when he’s even controlling your hallucinations — Wheeee.
P. Diddy’s presence, along with pop-ins by music names like Pink, Christina Aguilera, Lars Ulrich and more, creates a very telling “behind-the-scenes” look at the ins and outs of the carnival ride that is the world of music production.
Perhaps not every monumental concert involves the amount of anxiety and exhaustion that Aaron experiences as he makes his way up the corporate ladder, but his attempts to make his mark combined with Snow’s circumvention of a normal life makes for a very effective story about the dangers of fame and fortune.
But, this isn’t some cautionary tale so much as an appreciation of a life with no limits, with a firm realization that there are other elements of life to appreciate. Though, if the Infant Sorrow soundtrack — including ditties like “The Clap,” “Gang of Lust” and “Just Say Yes” — is any indication, it would seem that some rockers will just never learn.
The strong character structure and sensible approach to rock ‘n’ roll mayhem are what make “Get Him to the Greek” a good road movie, but the hold-nothing-back style of Hill, Brand and the rest of the cast is what makes it a good comedy. Like the well-aged absinthe that Snow pours down Aaron’s gullet, it’s hardly for all tastes, but if you can stomach it after the first gulp, you’ll love it.