Big Jim New Review: Get Him To The Greek

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Judd Apatow is getting serious in the oddest way. Last year around this time he released "Funny People," a movie I wish that I would have written. Not because of the money or anything, but because it hit a chord with me that I would love to hit with others. It was this blending of comedy, drama, and tragedy that I found fascinating. The balance he struck between the performance world of comedians and the struggles that occur offstage was extremely moving. There was a humanity he revealed behind that curtain that has not really been captured before. This isn't the world of the "sad clown," this is the world of the fucked up, self loathing man who gets just about anything he wants when he wants it and how empty that leaves him.

Almost a year later he delivers, "Get Him To The Greek." Now, this is an Apatow production, but he didn't direct it, and that might be to its detriment. Instead we get Nick Stoller of "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" fame in a spin off of that film that shares many similarities with Apatow's "Funny People.

How? Well, it is the story of a young man in a certain industry who is struggling to get a foothold who stumbles on a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time with a seasoned vet and ends up getting closer to that person while learning about life and how to really succeed.

In "Greek," we get Jonah Hill playing Aaron Green, a young record exec who is struggling to get ahead while maintaining his relationship with his doctor girlfriend. He stumbles onto an opportunity to escort his musical idol from London to New York and on to Los Angeles for a much hyped concert. That's the basic outline. Throw in the hard partying, drug using, manipulative nature of Aldus Snow, the rock star in question, and things quickly go to hell from there.

But there is a bit more going on here than that. This movie, in a word, is schizophrenic. It starts out as a straight comedy and takes a hard turn into serious, then back to comedy, then back to serious. From an emotional standpoint, this is a tough movie to follow. The drama and comedy are so different from each other and switch back and forth so quickly that it is a bit jarring.

Don't get me wrong. I like this movie, not as much as I liked "Funny People," but I did like it. Apatow has a much subtler touch and might have guided things a little more smoothly. Stoller is a much more frenetic style and things just slam into each other instead of flowing. Don't get me wrong, it is a difficult thing to accomplish, but in a movie like this that balance is necessary.

Now, the performances are outstanding. Russell Brand as rock star Aldus Snow is dead on. He embodies the old school rock and roll lifestyle to absolute perfection. The absolute seriousness with which he takes himself, the cluelessness about the real world, the inability to relate to anyone who is anything but a sycophant is brilliantly played. He is rock and roll. Jonah Hill plays the same part he always plays and plays it well.

The real problem is that it seemed like this film was stuck between two possible scenarios. Most of what happens in the trailer is not in the film which leads me to the conclusion that, like Anchorman, there were a few different story ideas played with during the filming and what we got was put together after the fact. There is a balancing act between a "stuffy guy meets free spirit who teaches him how to live," and a "successful man with demons is missing the woman who could make him happy," line. The jumping back and forth shows some weakness.

Again, the parts that work, work really well. The parts that don't feel slightly unnecassary but don't ruin the film, the just kind of weigh it down. It just feels like there is too much going on. Had they not done as much with the wife and kid angle they could have focused more on the relationship between Aldus and Aaron there could have been a much tighter and altogether stronger film.

Basically I liked it, but I felt as though there was a movie in there somewhere I would have liked more.



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