Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the brilliant and hilarious 2008 Apatow production that introduced the world to Jason Segel's penis, also gave us the lovable womanizing rock star Aldous Snow, played by British comedian Russell Brand. And while I often find Brand to be overbearing, his portrayal of Aldous was funny and genuinely enjoyable. One odd thing about the film is that it goes out of its way to establish that Aldous has been sober for seven years, and should he have even a drop of alcohol, he'll be hitting up anyone for a crack rock. The movie never touches on this element again, letting Aldous slip away clean as a whistle. While I doubt it was Segel's intention to feature Aldous in a spin-off feature, the inclusion of Snow's sobriety serves as the jumping off point for his very own starring role in Get Him To The Greek.
At some nebulous point after Forgetting Sarah Marshall, world famous rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) releases the album African Child, which is quickly dubbed "the worst thing for Africa since Apartheid." Despite this, Snow still revels in his sobriety with his longtime girlfriend, fellow pop star Jackie Q (Rose Byrne). However, Jackie soon finds herself bored with 5-hour yoga sessions and drops off the wagon, dumping Aldous in the process. Aldous, unable to cope, leaps off the wagon himself, landing headfirst in a drug-fueled haze. Meanwhile, record label owner Sergio Roma (Sean Combs) is looking for something to pick up his label's financial fortunes, finally settling upon an idea proposed by underling Aaron Green (Jonah Hill): Bring Aldous Snow back to Los Angeles for an anniversary concert at the Greek Theater. Sergio charges Green to bring Aldous back with him from England, which happens to coincide with relationship troubles Aaron is experiencing with his girlfriend, Daphne (Elisabeth Moss of Mad Men and The West Wing fame).
Let's get the obvious out of the way: Despite appearing more outrageous, Get Him To The Greek is not as funny as Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The beauty of Sarah Marshall is that it clearly came from a genuine place for writer Segel, whereas Greek is manufactured from a thousand different rise and fall rock star stories. However, that doesn't mean that Greek is bad. Far from it. While it's not as gut-busting and hilarious, it's still got what every good Apatow production strives for--heart.
I thought that both Jonah Hill and Russell Brand had the perfect amount of screen time in Sarah Marshall, so I was worried that both would overstay their welcome in Greek. Luckily writer/director Nicholas Stoller is smart enough to grow them both into full characters, instead of just using the pairing to make bodily excretion jokes (although there are enough of those to go around). Russell Brand continues to make Aldous Snow into the most interesting and charismatic rock star to never exist, and Jonah Hill also turns in a more sensitive performance than he's shown himself capable of previously. One strange thing is that, while this is meant to be a sequel to Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jonah Hill does not play the same character (Matthew the Waiter in the first film, Aaron Green in the second). In fact, the film's timeline doesn't quite jive with Sarah Marshall (Aldous and Jackie claim they've been sober seven years together, but Aldous dates Sarah during his seven years of being clean). It would have worked better as a prequel, showing Aldous' crazy days before getting clean, but it doesn't ruin the picture.
The supporting cast is also quite good. Rose Byrne is pretty hilarious as the vivacious Jackie Q, sleeping with a host of famous celebrities (including a good-humored Lars Ulrich of Metallica). Sean Combs is the biggest surprise of the film, bringing a lot of the movie's biggest laughs and not overstaying his welcome. Elisabeth Moss is a pleasure to watch anytime she's on screen (being in two of the best television shows of the past decade doesn't hurt in that regard) and Star Trek's Colm Meaney makes a surprise appearance as Aldous' father.
Get Him To The Greek is good, solid fun with some memorable gags and more memorable characters. While it doesn't reach the heights of the best Apatow productions such as The 40-Year Old Virgin, Superbad, or this film's predecessor, it's still got charm and heart to spare, making it one of the better releases of the summer so far. 3.5 Stars