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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Can you do Greek?

Russell Brand channels Peter O’Toole in the year’s best (so far) alkie celeb yarn

Posted By on Wed, Jun 9, 2010 at 12:00 AM

While the nation's industrial economy tanks, there's one predictable assembly line that continues to chug along — the Judd Apatow Comedy Works & Dick Joke Factory. Built on the reliable framework of overgrown boys behaving badly, Get Him to the Greek offers up more of the raunchy antics and road-tested formula of boobs and bros that made instant classics Superbad and Knocked Up. Greek isn't quite at the top of that hormonally comedic heap, but it is funny enough to earn its place in the pantheon, with a steady stream of sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, along with just a little bit of self-help uplift and a light coating of neurosis. 

Gadfly comic Russell Brand reprises his Forgetting Sarah Marshall role as pompous walking disaster Aldous Snow, a Brit rocker with Bono's colossal ego and Keith Richards' tolerance level. Snow's life and career are slumping just as his former girlfriend's career is taking off, on the heels of a preposterously awful album called African Child

Jason Segel penned some of his ridiculous and naughty Oasis-style tunes, including the would-be hit "Bangers, Beans and Mash." 

Jonah Hill is Aaron, the tubby slob charged with corralling this shambling, boozed-up mustang, and getting him from London to L.A. in time for an epic sold-out comeback concert at the Greek Theatre. A paunchier-than-ever Hill seems a tad scruffy-looking, even for a low-level record-label flunky, but every pound of his huge girth makes the many indignities he's forced to endure just a bit funnier. Such tried-and-sorta-true embarrassments include lots of booze-induced vomit, dancing on cars, sexual toilet mishaps and a balloon full of narcotics in an uncomfortable spot. 

In theme, the film's most direct predecessor is My Favorite Year, though it's doubtful anyone in the target demo will recall that 1982 chestnut, which featured the great Peter O'Toole (as an inebriated Errol Flynn stand-in) and Mark Linn-Baker as the poor schnook babysitting him. Granted, screen legacies are low on the agenda here, which basically involves Brand bouncing through a room, trashing it — and everyone in it — in a dozen ways, then flashing a dopey grin and charming his way through the chaos. There are plenty of fun celeb cameos, but the movie's major stunt-casting features Sean "P. Diddy" Combs as Hill's foul-mouthed boss, which only proves he's as overrated an actor as he is a rapper; he's never as funny as he thinks he is, even if he's in on the joke. 

Typical of producer Apatow's canon, there's an attempt to flesh out the lovely ladies behind these rude lads, and soften their rough edges. Mad Men star Elisabeth Moss is winning as Aaron's perpetually exhausted fiancee, who, after long shifts at the hospital, wants only to cuddle up to a Gossip Girl marathon, to her man's mute horror. Snow's opposite number is Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), a pop tart somewhere between Lady Gaga and Lily Allen, with the mouth and libido to match.

These domestic side trips only briefly slow the anarchy down, mostly because director Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) doesn't commit to sitting still. He's really not much of a visionary director, and it seems obvious that the cast winged it through most of the dialogue. But for such a wild urban safari ride, all you need is a tour guide to wave at the sights and point out the exits.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to


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