When I reviewed Judd Apatow’s Funny People, I felt it was ultimately a failure that did not succeed in what it set out to do, even if it was not a failure on the scale of, say, Nine. It seems that Judd Apatow (who produced this film) may have had some doubts about the material himself and hired someone to essentially make it again. Get Him to the Greek has the same plot and explores many of the same themes as Funny People. And Funny People may be the more clever film. Yet I would rather watch Get Him to the Greek again; it does not aim as high as other comedies have but it still works.
The film is a sort of sequel to Stoller’s earlier Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In that film, Russell Brand played a rock star named Aldous Snow. Well, Snow is back, and has been coerced into performing at the Greek theater in Los Angeles for a tenth anniversary concert of his “classic” live album. His latest album, the U2 inspired African Child has flopped miserably and his long time girlfriend Jackie Q (Rose Byrne) has left him. Amidst this, a record company managed by Sergio Roma (Sean Combs) has sent Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) to monitor him and make sure that he gets to the concert on time. Snow seems to more interest in a liberal amount of drug use and convinces Green to accompany him. Both men attempt to solve their romantic problems.
I know this will not be a discussion of the themes and this sort of attention deficit disorder discussion (or ADDD as I like to call it) but I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by Sean Combs’ performance. His performance suggests he is a highly regarded comedian rather than some second rate “musician.” He brings about a sort of madness that could only be present in CEOs. “I will be ok in this recession” he tells his staff “it is you who needs to come up with ideas.” Later, he reveals himself to be just as strung out on drugs as Snow was. His personality is one that is always talking down to people, always waxing eloquently as though he had original ideas. If the Academy Awards actually gave out awards for comedic performances, I would demand Sean Combs be nominated. Alas….well, at least he does well here and he may be the highlight of the film.
Now, onto why is this film better than Funny People. Simply put, this film knows what it wants to do and does it. Funny People was a film that aimed high and, although Judd Apatow certainly could have accomplished his goals, failed to do accomplish them. Get Him to the Greek manages to address them all. It never devolves to the sort of haphazard discussion Funny People did. Then again, it never started that way either.
Yes, there are some moments in Get Him to the Greek. Certain sections of the film appear to be trying to ape Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Yet it never becomes nearly as insightful – we are supposed to be laughing at the fact they are taking drugs. Snow is a rock star – not exactly shocking then that he would take drugs. The laughs for that work exactly once; it is hilarious to hear Jonah Hill think he may be having a heart attack after taking something called the “Jeffries.” The rest…not nearly as insightful. Besides, most of the film threatens to become sex comedy #1100, although it never quite devolves to that point. Still, that lingering threat is never a good sign.
I know I have “complained” that the film is low brow. Yet it’s not really a complaint. Animal House is still one of the funniest films in history, and it started at the sort of level that American Pie starts at. Perhaps there simply is a place for goofiness left in the world. If nothing else, Get Him to the Greek shows us exactly how to make that goofiness fit in.