Get Him to the Greek (2010, dir. Nicholas Stoller)
Starring Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Sean Combs, Elizabeth Moss, Rose Byrne, Colm Meany
There is the way Apatow films are perceived by those that haven’t seen them, and then the what the films actually are. Most people who don’t see these movies discount them as gross out frat boy movies, and that’s sad because they will be missing a rather poignant film about relationships. That’s what the Apatow circle has done an amazing job of, making movies about very real relationships. The women in this film are not harpies or shrews, they are not holding these men back. Instead, they are equal partners in the mistakes and travails of our main characters.
Aaron (Hill) is a young music executive tasked with the job of getting washed up rocker Aldous Snow (Brand) from London to L.A. for an anniversary concert at the Greek. Aaron is also dealing with his live-in girlfriend Daphne (Moss) who is in the midst of med school and has just got a transfer to Seattle. Aaron leaves LA on a sour note with her, but quickly gets involved in the insanity that surrounds the hard drinking, drugged out Snow. Aaron is constantly impeded by Snow in getting the man first to an appearance on the Today, and then to the Greek theater. They are sidetracked by Snow’s proclivities for sex and drugs and Aaron usually ends up on the losing end of this. He drinks absinthe unaware of what it is and ends up a buffoon in a nightclub. He is forced to store Aldous’ heroin on his person in a rather uncomfortable place. He is injected with a needle full of adrenaline and goes on a rampage in a strip club.
The character of Aldous Snow first appeared in 2007’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall, there he was put together, Zen-like sage. Here his career has seen a downturn, he’s lost the woman he loves, and his career seems to be over. This version of Snow has much more in common with Brand’s own life. If you have read his autobiography Booky Wook, then you know that Brand suffered from a drug and sex addiction. He also has some major emotional issues when it comes to his father. Snow’s father also plays a significant role in the film, as a figure responsible for much of his son’s current state. Snow also has a more successful ex (Byrne) who is at first presented as an absurd character, but when we meet her later, comes across as someone who has moved past the gutter Snow seems to be stuck in.
Every performance here feels very unforced and natural, and I think that’s why Apatow’s productions are so enjoyable. Every one feels like they are these characters, the lines roll effortlessly from them and never feel like actors acting. The friendship between Aaron and Snow feels genuine, and this comes from the fact that in real life Brand is a very open and friendly person, as glimpsed in his many British television series. Director Stoller is also not afraid to end Snow in a place that doesn’t wrap everything up perfectly. Snow doesn’t get the girl, he ends up going on stage right after receiving a horribly painful injury, and tells Aaron in a heartbreaking scene that this is the only thing he has left that makes him feel like a good person. In an odd sort of way Snow is a comedic version of Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. They are both playing characters based more on themselves than any fictional creation.