Over the past five years, few conversations about the motion picture comedy haven’t involved Judd Apatow. Not just the features he’s directed that have been both personal and widely-appealing (well, maybe not Funny People on that latter point); but the pictures that he’s produced as well.
Still, after so many movies the tap has seemed to run a tad dry – this is the first year since 2004 that Apatow has only produced one movie. And that one movie, Nicholas Stoller’s Get Him to the Greek, is light on the Apatow influence. There’s not a lot of manchild character drama that his movies often present, and the humor is never totally oddball like Step Brothers or Pineapple Express. Does that mean the Apatow machine has finally worn out?
Well, not quite. Get Him to the Greek is a funny movie, and it works better than the film it was spun off from, Stoller’s 2008 directorial debut Forgetting Sarah Marshall. But the laughs aren’t as creative, and there’s room for a more discerning editor in the feature.
Taking Russell Brand’s drugged out rock superstar character Aldous Snow from his supporting role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and throwing him into his own movie, Greek follows a record label intern (played by Jonah Hill) tasked with escorting Snow from London to LA, to play a concert that will, if everything goes right, resurrect his failed career.
With Snow’s ego (and id) the size of the BP oil spill, this proves a difficult task, but one with plenty of laughs. The plot sets up plenty of solid gags, even if a few of them don’t make a lot of sense. They involve getting to see Colm Feore play an aged brit-rocker (for which I’m thankful,) and Lars Ulrich playing a douchebag, which shouldn’t be too big a surprise.
But Stoller experiences similar problems that were evident in Sarah Marshall as well. It comes off as less of a story and more of a series of sketches, the characters are less important that the jokes. It also has a problem with improvisation – too often, the actors are allowed to riff onscreen longer than is justified. Props to Stoller for letting the players experiment, but the editor should have known when to let the gags fall to the floor.
Still, you could do worse. Go see it with some friends, and you’re sure to have a fun enough time.