“Party Like a Rock Star” the popular hip hop song by Shop Boyz, and the rock equivalent “I Want to be a Rock Star” by Nickelback were created with the same premise in mind that GET HIM TO THE GREEK uses: rock stars live and party hard. However, those are the old school rock stars. The charts these days are topped by teen sensations and synthesized hip hop, and the days of a Keith Richards or Whitesnake doing lines of coke off of strippers or setting fire to hotel rooms are long passed…except for Amy Winehouse. But GET HIM TO THE GREEK serves to remind us of those true blue days of rock n roll, with Russell Brand reprising the role of rocker Aldous Snow from FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL and the lovably crude Jonah Hill as Aaron Green, the studio employee responsible for transporting the irresponsible Snow from London to Los Angeles for an anniversary concert at the historic Greek Theater. And it is in that homage to the crazy rock star lifestyle, and the classic way Russell Brand plays it up that the best laughs come, but Jonah Hill is no slouch either, with great one-liners as the regular Joe caught up in the rock star madness for three days. Producer Judd Apatow has had great success in comedies that have provided countless belly laughs and this is no exception. This is a movie to watch.
We start with humor directed at the music production side, with Sean Combs playing music mogul Sergio Roma trying to find a way to rejuvenate his label in a hilarious meeting with his staff. Lackey Aaron Green suggests an anniversary concert for rocker Aldous Snow at the Greek Theater. Snow is last remembered for a Bono-like single about suffering in Africa, called “African Child,” which critics called the worst thing for black society since the Rodney King beatings. This could be a resurrection for him as well, and on his way to the concert, Green must stop off in New York to promote the concert on the Today Show, then after a stop off in Vegas get Snow to the Greek Theater. This is not as easy as a series of layovers, however, as rock stars are notorious for needing to be handled, and some of them insit on being difficult in that respect. In New York, Aaron has to make sure Aldous is sober for The Today Show, so he must drink all the liquor and smoke all the weed. Next in Vegas, Aldous looks to reconcile with an absent father in Colm Meaney as he procures groupies for Aaron. Then to LA where heartbreak over the loss of his old flame Jackie Q (a hilarious Rose Byrne showing a side we’ve never seen in FX’s “Damages”) makes it questionable whether he will do the show at all.
Aaron Green has drama of his own in his relationship with his live-in girlfriend played by “Mad Men”’s Elizabeth Moss (who I’ve always thought was weird looking since “West Wing”), and when you have drama and ambiguity in a relationship spending three days with a rock star amidst all the scattered half naked women in rock n roll is a recipe for infidelity. But it’s Jonah Hill so it’s hilarious to see.
Sean Combs plays up his persona to a hilarious degree as well poking fun at the current music scene (of which he is a key player), and shows a side of himself that is shockingly funny. Elizabeth Moss has potential for funny lines and situations, but they play up the “exhausted doctor” angle too much, so that when we reach our climactic scene with her, Aldous and Aaron, we don’t know where she’s coming from. But the best part of this film is the dynamic between Jonah Hill and Russell Brand, and in that dynamic we find the lion’s share of the laughs, and they are aplenty. Aside from their back and forth, and the inherent comic possibilities in a road movie, this film also gives Russell Brand some great comic songs to perform, like “The Clap,” “Bangers, Beans and Mash,” and my personal favorite “Furry Wall.” This is a great movie for good belly laughs pointed at current and past music culture. If you are in any way familiar with either, watch this movie.