Get Him to the Greek begins with an uproariously bad music video starring Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) and his longtime lover Jackie Q (a deliriously skanky Rose Byrne). So bad is the video with its misbegotten save-the-children-as-self-interest message that it is considered “the worst thing to happen to Africa after war and famine.” So funny is this opening segment with its rapid-fire visual gags that you have to wonder if the rest of the film can keep that dizzying pace. The bad news is that Greek ends on a surprisingly sappy note; the good news is that everything in between is consistently hilarious.
Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) is the most put-upon lackey in show business. An intern for overbearing-but-supportive recording executive Sergio (Sean Combs), Aaron sells the idea of getting former icon Aldous to an anniversary gig at L.A.’s Greek Theater. Sergio charges Aaron with getting him to New York for the Today show and then to L.A. for the concert, all within 72 hours. But upon meeting Aldous in person, Aaron realizes this is not going to be such an easy task.
Aldous seems to have only known yes-men his entire career, and drugs are a major problem for the rocker. Seven years of sobriety ended shortly after Jackie dumped him (unceremoniously, on live TV), so his interest in partying gets in the way of every available flight out of London. After an absinthe-soaked montage (and a priceless blow-off of one of the Harry Potter kids), Aaron gets Aldous to the plane and they barely make it to New York, just in time to create a shambles of the Today set. Between New York and L.A., the requisite detour takes place via Las Vegas, where Aldous attempts to make a connection with his estranged father (Colm Meaney). This goes about as well as everything else they try.
Along the way, Aaron is treated as though he were the focus of a documentary called Make A Mess of Fatty, Fatty Fall Down. Were it not for the plot’s predictably tender attempts to make Aldous and Aaron fast buddies, the whole affair might seem a bit mean-spirited. Aaron’s home life is equally one-sided, though less funny: his live-in girlfriend Daphne (Mad Men‘s Elisabeth Moss) is a zombie-like hospital drone who has life plans that don’t sync up with his. But every time the film focuses on them, the funny-quotient dips substantially. (Funnier on the female side are Byrne in a solid comic performance – something she’s done precious little of – and Kristen Bell in a brief but pitch-perfect advertisement for the latest Sarah Marshall project.)
If there is a real surprise in Greek, it’s Combs as Sergio. Sergio’s bombast and manic attitude make for what could have been a fairly aggravating stock character, but Combs is terrifically funny in what amounts to a very extroverted version of himself. Sergio is always in the background, providing Aaron advice in uncomfortable moments; he even pops up in hallucinations and Las Vegas, where he shows how sturdy and reliable record executives can be.
Get Him to the Greek is a persistently funny film that keeps the unabashedly adult dialogue and situations coming at a fast clip. That it closes out as a cuddly teddy bear instead of a mangy rock star isn’t much of a condemnation; it still manages to be exceedingly cheerful about its nice ending.