There was a time when rock stars behaved like rock stars. They didn’t guest edit the “Globe and Mail” or appear on “American Idol.” In the good old days they trashed hotels rooms, drove Roll Royces into swimming pools and bit the heads off of bats. In other words they behaved like Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) the decadent singer who first rock ‘n’ rolled all night in “Saving Sarah Marshall” and now parties every day in “Get Him to the Greek.”
Jonah Hill plays Aaron Green, a record company intern sent to London to accompany his idol, the washed up rock star Aldous Snow, to New York for an appearance on the “Today” show and then on to Los Angeles for his comeback concert at the Greek Theatre. Between “sips of naughty water,” condoms of heroin hidden in awkward places and all the sex, barf and rock ‘n’ roll two people can possibly cram into 72 hours the trip goes horribly wrong. Imagine if “The Hangover” starred Keith Moon and Jim Morrison and you get the idea.
Brand and Hill are the name brand comics in the credits, but another actor, not known for yukking it up, actually almost walks away with the movie. As the grizzled record label president Sergio Roma—a jaded executive who has been there, done that—Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs swoops in from time to time to deliver many of the film’s best lines. He’s at his best in the manic Las Vegas drugapalooza sequence—they smoke a giant spliff called a “Jeffrey,” so named because the name sounds safe but packs a punch; much like Jeffrey Dalhmer I guess—when he’s out of control and really letting go of his finely honed P-Diddy image.
Not that Brand and Hill don’t get laughs—they get plenty—but they are also required to bring some heart to what is essentially an R-rated raunchy comedy. The romantic scenes, the pining for their exes and the heart-to-heart talks, could work, but they don’t in this movie. Rock ‘n’ roll is a vicious game and “Get Him to the Greek” is best when it is loud and proud and sticks with the three chord comedy. Nobody wants to hear the Ramones backed by a symphony orchestra and likewise we don’t need to hear Snow complaining about the lonely life of a rock star. Screenwriter and director Nicholas Stoller would have done well to wonder “What would Keith Richards do?” from time to time and cut the mushy stuff.
Otherwise “Get Him to the Greek” is a rock ‘n’ roll romp, and while it doesn’t exactly have enough rock ‘n’ roll attitude—it’s more The Monkees than Led Zeppelin—it does provide one great lyric line, “When the world slips you a Jeffrey / Stroke the furry wall,” a great old school soundtrack—“Personality Crisis” by the New York Dolls, T. Rex’s “20th Century Boy”—lots of good inappropriate jokes and some fun cameos.