Caution! “Get Him to the Greek” may be dangerous to your health. Depending on your age, temperament, and moral rigidity, you may crack a rib laughing or explode in apoplectic rage. This is what might be called an “Extreme R,” pushing the usual boundaries of taste (assuming that quaint term still applies) and turning up every rock under which a laugh might conceivably lie. (Note: If you are a member of the target audience—male, age 18-34—disregard the above.)
The movie is the latest from the Judd Apatow production juggernaut, which shamelessly borrows characters, actors, even plotlines from its previous numbers, rejiggers them, and shoots the new-but-familiar product out into the theaters. The focal player here is the chubby, reliable Jonah Hill as Aaron Green, a go-fer at Pinnacle Records, which is run by Sergio Roma (Sean Combs, aka P. Diddy). A huge fan of disgraced rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), Aaron comes up with a game-saver for the troubled label: sponsor a ten-year anniversary concert at L.A.’s Greek Theater with Snow headlining.
For his inspiration, Aaron gets the job of retrieving the high-living, drug-taking, notoriously notorious rocker to the Greek. Dream job, right? Try nightmare. Aaron gets snowed under: as the clock runs out on his three days’ deadline. Trying to party with his idol proves disastrous, calling on his non-existent sense of responsibility futile. An appearance on the Today Show somehow works out, as does a visit to Aldous’ Da in Vegas, with Sergio racing across the desert to his rescue.
Still, not surprisingly, it all comes down to the wire, and it all turns out OK. But the getting to the Greek and the predictable, oddly sentimental close are the fun and the frustration. Director/screenwriter Nicholas Stoller achieves some moments of brilliant comedy but also a number of dead spots. Brand is mesmerizing, lightning in a bottle: you never quite know where he’s going to go with his character. The parodies of the music industry skewer it beautifully, and Aaron’s running problems with his live-in, Daphne (Elizabeth Moss), provide both dramatic tension and humor.
But the editing is slack, Stoller letting scenes run on past the point where they’re funny or throwing in bits for their own sake, rather than improving the movie. A diverse bunch of celebrities—Christina Aguilera, Pink, Meredith Viera, Paul Krugman (!)—appear in cameos, not all of them relevant, not of them funny. And after a while, the initial shock of the language, the incidents, and the over-the-top lifestyle just get, well, boring. When the wit dies, so does the comic momentum.
I expect “Get Him to the Greek” will do well this summer as word of mouth spreads. I don’t expect it will have a wide audience, but I’m guessing there will be a lot of repeat viewers. If you have a low shock threshold, avoid; otherwise, enjoy.