DIRECTED BY NICHOLAS STOLLER
STARRING: RUSSELL BRAND, JONAH HILL, ELISABETH MOSS, ROSE BYRNE, COLM MEANEY with T.J. MILLER, AZIZ ANSARI and SEAN COMBS
I think the most singular thing about Nicholas Stoller’s ‘Get him to the Greek’ is that in spite of the crassness of humour that the film did NOT sidestep, it turned out to be quite a likeable affair. How, I ask myself. Here is yet another film that rationalizes the eccentricities of a rock-n-roll musician, brands on him the ‘loneliness’ label that rockstars recline to as a convenient stereotype, that their lives are in actuality a sort of pitiable tragicomedy. Here is yet another film dealing with the disillusionment of the quintessential believer, and a reinvention in newfound belief. Cameron Crowe’s ‘Almost Famous’ is ‘almost’ the perfect cocktail recipe for this passive-aggressive music trip that every subsequent attempt has to be William Miller, but with differences. It’s inevitable.
And yet, I have to admit that ‘Get him to the Greek’ kept its charm. The weird thing is, I don’t know how. Not concretely. I think in Russell Brand (as the infamous Aldous Snow), we find a more convincing rock-n-roll star than Billy Crudup could ever be. Crudup had an image change, his Russell Hammond – a method acting venture. Brand, I felt, was playing himself or a very close version. He’s British, he’s fairly effeminate. He’s reminiscent of Keith Richards minus the guitar work. I mean, Johnny Depp had to act like him (Jack Sparrow, as we hear, is a Richards impression with improv) but Brand doesn’t find the need to. Russell Brand, the comedian, serves as a convincing template for Aldous Snow, the rockstar. For all we know, you could scratch the actual sexcapades (considering he’s married and it’s working) and you have him on your canvas, alive and breathing. Jackie Q (Rose Byrne) could be Katy Perry, although she’s more Madonna with the Karmic routine, but you get what I mean, right? They work.
Oh, do I have to tell you about the plot? I didn’t know what ‘the Greek’ was before I watched the film, so I don’t know if it’d be a ‘spoiler’ if I let you know. Or you may already know and it would be of no difference. Anyway, it’s about a man from a record label (an associate? I don’t know the jargon, so let me stick to that) who’s sanctioned to bring Aldous Snow down from Britain for a concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. That’s ‘the Greek’ in the title. I’m sorry, I’m bad at America.
Anyway, this man Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) has problems. Probably the most serious of them. Him and his girlfriend Daphne (Elisabeth Moss) work opposite shifts in a live-in relationship. They brunch together. They watch ‘Gossip Girl’ together. It looks like it can’t get worse, but you don’t buy that. Not when there’s Aldous Snow in the picture. He’s just out of a 7 year relationship with a son to show, and is back to living with his Mother who feeds him biscuits than love. Or, considering mothers, they both go together and he doesn’t see it other than for a moment of truth. But anyway, Aaron is on a time-bomb routine. The clock ticks 72 hours and then Snow performs, whole or broken. That’s the deal.
Like I said, Jonah Hill is no William Miller. What’s good is that he doesn’t try. He looks overgrown to recommence on his ‘Superbad’ cuteness (for lack of a better word!), but beyond the unshaven look, the extra pounds and the tons of puke, there’s still a fair shade of the likeable kid left in him. To quote a friend again, he still rules in the ‘capital letters’ zone. The rest of them are stereotypes pretty much like in every chemistry-anti-chemistry flick, there’s no Jason Lee to step out and impress. But even for that, Colm Meaney looked overcooked. It’s not the first instance that he’s been badly used, but considering it’s Apatow, you’d expect better. Sean Combs has his moments as Sergio, head of ‘Pinnacle Records’ where Aaron works. He says the funniest thing in the whole film, which actually happens to be factually inconsistent, I felt. It’s neither the Zeppelins nor the Stones that live longest, Serge. Last time I checked, Chuck Berry was African-American. Be proud, bro.
Nicholas Stoller might lack the deftness of a music-ingrained Todd Haynes or a Cameron Crowe, but he’s good value. His film ate its own words, I felt, and then puked them back out. I’m sorry there’s too much puke in my review – in my defence, there was even more in the film. But then, there was Russell Brand as well. It’s amazing how electrifying he is on stage, how organic the concert(s) look. For a parody character, he gives us quite the experience. His music sucks, but you feel the Greek. Kind of puts Stoller in perspective – you think he’d make a great record producer, he just turned shit to gold. As Filmmaker, I’d say he gets a Bronze medal, tops. Or as a critic equivalent, the half-smile.