Get Him To The Greek
Although the template of the film is the same tired routine, a refreshing, lyrical Russell Brand gives new energy to a weary format.


30 October 2010

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Plot summary

A record company intern is hired to accompany out-of-control British rock star Aldous Snow to a concert at L.A.'s Greek Theatre.

It may not be too premature to suggest that Russell Brand has officially ‘made it’ in America. Following his roles in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Bedtime Stories, the hosting of MTV Awards twice and regular sell-out comedy dates, here he stands battling it out with Shrek at the top end of the US Box Office. Going back a few years, Brand’s career was on a different path.

Many are aware of the drug-addled years that preceded Brand’s rise to fame, much of which has contributed to the creation of his role as Aldous Snow in Get Him To The Greek. Notable parallels include the relationship he shares with his doting mother and reckless father, the heroin-smuggling at airports, the outstretched pose in front of a fountain, even a childhood photo crops up. The only thing missing is his beloved cat Morrissey who is replaced with a son called Naples.

In Get Him To The Greek, Brand plays Aldous Snow, lead singer of Infant Sorrow and one of the few remaining real ‘rock stars’ in a declining music industry dominated by hip hop. His career has gone dramatically downhill since releasing African Child, where he is portrayed as a ‘white African Jesus’ in what was later described as only behind war and famine in the worst things that have happened to Africa. A young music rep (Hill) proposes that a music label in decline puts on a ten year anniversary Infant Sorrow show at The Greek to mark one of the biggest-selling live albums of all time. It will be the ‘gamechanger’ that his crude-tongued record-label boss (Sean ‘P.Diddy/Puff Daddy/Puffy D/and so on’ Coombs) is looking for. The only problem is that Ole’ Aldous is a bit of a party animal and Aaron is sent to ensure he gets to the gig in time and, therewithin, the road trip premise is set.

Aldous is a physical embodiment of the rejection of civilised life and he tries to take Aaron on the same journey with him, running into one menacing confrontation after another.  This is a male escapist fantasy, with life on the road being resistant to the responsibilities of domesticity: Aaron’s girlfriend is looking to move cities for a better job and is looking to take him with her, a neurotic Aldous rarely sees his son and his mother and, above all, there is a somewhat outright rejection of monogamy. So – on the surface – it ticks a number of generic road trip traits. However, this is no Planes, Trains and Automobiles, this is no Natural Born Killers, this is not a ‘gamechanger’, as it were.

The road movie, as a genre, is traditionally focused on men and the absence of women and, while there is much masculine empowerment in the film, if Katherine Heigl thought that Knocked Up was sexist, let’s hope she wasn’t invited into this film. All the female characters are subsidiary and, at other times, subservient to the men. It is even noted in the film itself; when a girl is pointed in Aaron’s direction and told to have sex with him, he remarks “That’s disrespectful”. I guess admitting the problem is the first step. Maybe in the next film, Apatow will pick some sex-obsessed females to lead and relegate the men to nothing more than window dressing…that’s if he’s interested in making a third Sex And The City.

The tried and tested formula of the Apatow comedy era is in action again here. Present is the on-off dialogue; sometimes brilliantly observant, well-timed and very funny, at other times sacrificing all this to shock with its content. However, although the template of the film is the same tired routine, there is no Rudd, Rogen and Segal in sight, but a refreshing, lyrical Russell Brand that gives a new energy to a weary format.

Within this is a full understanding of modern culture and the integration of new media. TMZ, Entertainment Tonight, YouTube. Even The One Show gets a look in but, as a rock star, who doesn’t have Adrian Chiles’ trademark Midlands drawl included in the marketing plan for their single?

Brand’s performance is more than worthy of the lead role and, it is reminder, that he is a very good actor and, along with Hill who deserves his fair share of the plaudits, it is this screwball-buddy-relationship that brings the film above the level of just another gross-out comedy. Brand is wild, rebellious and utterly irrational; every inch of the moral fibre that makes up his rock star.  There may be some who will say how close this particular character resembles his true persona but, in the words of Brand himself, “there’s no point in getting a 7-foot Chinaman to play the part of a little Dutch girl.”