There are many characters that would benefit from being given an addiction to drink and drugs and their own movie charting their spiral into the abyss of self-destruction. Hermione Granger perhaps, SATC’s Charlotte, Gandalf...
Green soon learns one of life’s hardest lessons: no good ever comes from the words, “Have you ever drunk absinthe from the 1900s?”
As it is we get Aldous Snow (played by Russell Brand, as himself, as a rock star) from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, who, after releasing a severely misjudged single about the ‘African Child’ inside of him, is deserted by his girlfriend Jackie Q and spirals into said abyss of drink and drugs-fuelled self-destruction.
Aaron Green (Jonah Hill of heart-warmingly dirty Superbad fame) is struggling to have a relationship with his trainee doctor girlfriend, Daphne (an adorable Elisabeth Moss). She announces that they are both going to move to Seattle for her job, causing them to split when he blames her period and refuses to go. He’s OK though because his Pinnacle Records boss Sergio Roma (Sean Combs, as P. Diddy, as a record producer) has just told the young idealist to collect Aldous Snow from London and get him to the Greek Theatre to play a huge ten year anniversary gig (suddenly the film’s title almost makes sense).
With 72 hours to save Snow’s career, Pinnacle’s business and his job, the newly single (or so he thinks) Green eagerly flies to London to bestow watery-eyed hero-worship upon his idol. Unfortunately, he finds that Snow, despite being offered a lifeline with his comeback gig, would still rather party, have sex with randomers and remain a drunken stupor away from sober at all times. Luckily, the man is willing to share.
Delaying flights and generally causing havoc, Snow introduces Green to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of late-night parties, toilet sex and post-hangover vomiting. As well as accidentally cheating on his girlfriend, Green soon learns one of life’s hardest lessons: no good ever comes from the words, “Have you ever drunk absinthe from the 1900s?”
Brand is still likeable as Aldous Snow, the quotable rock star who’s a dying breed and knows it. He has stepped back into the tattooed lothario’s snakeskin boots with ease. This role may not seem much of a stretch for the modern day dandy, but that kinship might be what allows Brand to bring genuine heart to a character whose debauchery retains a pitiably desperate edge right from the start.
It's just a shame that, much like Snow, Greek doesn’t really hit the right notes. The film doesn’t dig deep enough into Snow (sorry). Instead, his alcoholism is ham-fistedly explained with a dim mother and a sleazy dad who’s a walking childhood complex.
With themes like alcoholism and drug addiction it’s a bit too painful to be an all-out comedy, and yet Greek somehow misses the mark with sentimentalism too, unlike producer Judd Apatow’s previous hits Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin. Although this is most likely because Greek is also missing Apatow’s directing and penmanship, instead being helmed by Nicholas Stoller, the same guy who brought us Fun With Dick and Jane (as bad as it sounds). As comedies go it’s more in the region of Apatow’s (unfortunately) ironically titled Funny People than his sweetly sick Superbad.
The laughs are too few and far between and, to get another musical reference in, never seem to strike the right chord. On one side of the spectrum you have a stoned person stroking a furry wall and on the other you have male rape (apparently it’s OK because the woman violating Green with a giant phallus is hot). With cheap laughs like this, Hill seems as wasted as his co-star. He’s better at firing off uncouth one-liners than being the rotund foil.
Ultimately, whatever potential Stoller and Apatow saw in their original film has only been half-fulfilled. It has its funny moments but they’re overshadowed by a plot as thin and self-conscious as one of Aldous Snow’s scarves.
Get Him to the Greek (15) is in cinemas now.