Granted, it’s been nearly a month since the initial release of “Get Him to the Greek,” and admittedly, the screening was before noon on a Sunday, but it’s an experience that couldn’t help but enunciate exactly how often I wasn’t laughing. The silences practically echoed.
However, the scenario was hardly the film’s sole detractor; the Apatow-produced comedy was, in many ways, the polar opposite of what I expected. From a structural standpoint, I anticipated there being a harder driving force; I thought the plot—Which sees Russell Brand reprising the role of debaucherous rocker Aldous Snow from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”—would consist of a series of escalating outlandish and out-of-hand party sequences with the omnipresent ticking clock to keep it dramatically grounded.
But if anything, “Get Him to the Greek” is not only pointlessly cyclical in how it stacks its scenes, but cause and effect are tossed clear out the window. The gist of it is that the irresponsible Snow must be chaperoned (Cue Jonah Hill as record company intern Aaron Green) to the Greek Theater in Los Angeles for an anniversary concert in 72 hours. Writer/director Nicholas Stoller sets up countless potential snags for Green, such as Snow forgetting his commitment altogether, and the duo running impossibly late for their flight, but renders nearly every plot device irrelevant within ten minutes of its introduction. There’s no potential for suspense when resolution is always a few easy lines of dialogue or a scene transition away.
“Will he make it?” should be the audience’s imperative question, and I mean, of course he will, but it’s like Stoller isn’t even trying to make us squirm. Then again, his script is so heavy with missed opportunity that frustration and boredom may produce the identical effect.
And just when his story should be roaring to a climax, it all but sputters out. Our heroes make it to LA with time to spare, which they then spend mending spats with their significant others—A transparent and lazy attempt at adding depth to this lightheaded farce. It allows Snow to have his obligatory existential crisis before the show—Only to be reaffirmed by Green, acting for the first time, as a friend.
This has grazed into spoiler territory, I guess, so let me pitch you a better ending while we’re here. After much trial and tribulation, Snow and Green arrive at the venue with moments to spare. The lights are down; Snow steps on stage and belts out the first song. He is met with the rousing applause… of just a few hundred fans. Reality check. Now he can have his existential crisis. In finally coming to terms with his diminishing career, his friendship with Green is made all the more poignant, and his comeback single (which the film already goes out on) is all the more triumphant.
It’s not hard to rewrite a film that so narrowly jukes its own potential. I sought out “Get Him to the Greek,” even four weeks late, because I was sold on the trailer. The premise is strong, and the Brand/Hill combo under the Apatow umbrella seemed like a sure thing. The bottom line is it’s not all that funny; but even more disappointingly, its narrative backbone is flimsy. If a great story had been locked in, and had I felt even momentarily unsure that he would be gotten to said Greek, those echoing silences might not have mattered.
But when I’m not invested in the story, and I’m not laughing, I become painfully aware that I’m the sole occupant of a silent two hundred seat theater.