Apatow brand comedies aren’t as fresh as they were five years ago when The 40 Year Old Virgin was released. 2009’s Funny People was indulgent, excessively long and lacking in energy, and on the surface it seems that Get Him to the Greek is following the same basic premise, which sets the alarm bells of creative lethargy ringing. Jonah Hill’s put-upon low level record label employee and celebrity wrangler echoes Seth Rogan’s unassuming, downtrodden assistant, while Russell Brand’s past-it rocker ostensibly mirrors Adam Sandler’s burnt out, bitter comedian. The ‘dark’ tones of Funny People are also present in Get Him to the Greek, although neither could be classified as darkly comic. Instead there are a few introspective moments that touch very briefly on themes like addiction and love. However, these are brief and snappy rather than lingering and soppy, resulting in a pace that is far swifter than anything that Mr Apataow has ever produced.
Director and writer Nicholas Stoller is in full control here, and it seems that the characters borrowed from Jason Segel’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall have been transposed into a surprisingly different film without bringing with them any of the fat from their previous appearances. I’m labouring my way towards making the claim that Get Him to the Greek is representative of the best aspects of the films that have gone before it without being hampered by any of the negatives. For me it was an excellent, slightly numbing comedy experience.
The plot follows Jonah Hill’s music loving dogsbody Aaron Green as he shepherds Russell Brand’s Aldous Snow from London to Los Angeles in time for a comeback gig that Green himself suggests. Their journey is a haphazard one that tests Green’s relationship with his girlfriend, and attempts to repair the damaged relationship between Snow and his father. It’s predictable, but the script is well written and the comedy does not rely on outlandish situations or surreal, derivative nonsense. Brand is oddly likeable as the damaged lothario, his character rounded out by some brief exposition that doesn’t feel like it has been wedged in for good measure. Hill is more reserved than he has been in the likes of Superbad, although his timing and delivery are still sharp.
There are plenty of celebrity cameos in Get Him to the Greek, but none of them are overcooked or extended, and most are very funny. There are probably some who will bang on about how good Sean “Diddy” Combs is as label boss Sergio Roma, and while his foul-mouthed turn is manic and frequently laugh-out-loud funny, it lacks the finesse with which Brand and Hill both approach their own roles.
This movie could have been a disaster, and on paper I was typically sceptical. However, I had a great time watching Get Him to the Greek, and while it isn’t a classic it is certainly going to be difficult to beat this summer.