Monday, July 05, 2010

GET HIM TO THE GREEK - They fuck you up, your mum and dad - Part Three

In fairness, the people doing the psychological damage in the alleged buddy-comedy, GET HIM TO THE GREEK, aren't just the parents. The record label, entourage, management and fans all take the blame in enabling viciously damaging pop star behaviour. That Aldous Snow, self-proclaimed white musical Jesus, manages to retain any humanity at all, in the haze of adulation and exploitation, is a miracle. This movie is about how Aldous Snow, washed up, alone, makes it from London to LA to play a comeback gig in spite of various attempts at self-sabotage. He does so in the company of a fan-boy turned record label chaperone, Aaron. It's meant to be a laugh-out-loud comedy, giving the character who stole every scene in FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL more screen time. The problem is that while Russell Brand IS funny as Aldous Snow, he's also too good to leave his performance at the level of superficial pratfalls and lascivious word-play. Brand's Snow is actually a very sad man, and there's something faintly exploitative in the screen-writer, director and audience trying to find laughter in his pain. It's almost as though we're milking Aldous Snow in exactly the same way that his record company is milking him. "We know you're physically and psychologically harmed, mate, but go on, do that funny song-and-dance act!"

Maybe I'm taking it all too seriously. After all, this is a film in which Sean Combs is genuinely very funny spoofing himself as a hard-balled record exec. (I loved the line "you're three zippers away from Thriller"), It's a movie in which Rose Byrne is really very funny indeed as Aldous Snow's ex-wife and fame-junkie Jackie Q. Maybe I should just be happy with the laughs? But even as simple comedy this movie doesn't quite work. I know Jonah Hill is essentially playing the straight man to Russell Brand's comedy protagonist, but even then, Aaron could've been a lot more interesting as a character. Where's that slightly geeky creepiness that Hill brought to his cameo in FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL? And as for the scene where Snow tries to instigate a threesome with Aaron and his girlfriend (Elizabeth Moss) - excruciating just doesn't cover it.

The best Judd Apatow movies are both funny and touching. FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL isn't just great comedy - at some level we really feel for Jason Segel's Peter as he tries to get over his girlfriend, and we're really routing for him to get together with Mila Kunis' Rachel. Okay, we've probably never been dumped for a rock star, but I think everyone can empathise with Peter's pain - and even Sarah's despair at trying to make the relationship work. At the heart of all comedy, there has to be an emotional core we can relate to. The relationship arcs in GET HIM TO THE GREEK - between Aldous and his dad; Aldous and his ex-wife; and most of all between Aaron and his girlfriend - just don't feel real, and as a result I didn't care about them. The only part of the movie that felt real was Snow's addiction and loneliness. And I simply wasn't heartless enough to laugh at that.

Additional tags: William Kerr, Michael L Sale, Sean Combs, Elizabeth Moss

GET HIM TO THE GREEK is on release in the US, UK, Kazakhstan, Canada, Iceland, Australia, Georgia and the Netherlands. It opens in July in Greece, Portugal and Estonia. It opens in August in Sweden, Turkey, France, Finland, Norway, Germany and Spain. It opens in September in Denmark and Argentina and in October in Hungary.

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