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My favorite beer
Sarah Marshall’s lightning in a bottle runs out for the spin-off

Get Him to the Greek

Rated:R
Studio:Universal Pictures
Director:Nicholas Stoller
Cast:Jonah Hill, Russell Brand, Elisabeth Moss, Sean 'Diddy' Combs, Rose Byrne
Genre:Comedy
Our Rating:

Two years after his Hawaiian fling with TV star Sarah Marshall in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, sex-crazed rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) is back in the spotlight. Unfortunately, he’s also off the wagon big time after the flop of offensive single “African Child (Trapped In Me),” his divorce from a similarly foul-minded songstress, Jackie Q (Rose Byrne), and the release of a tell-all book by his estranged father.

Enter Jonah Hill as Aaron Green, an entirely different overzealous fan of Aldous’ work than the one he played in Sarah Marshall. Aaron’s a budding music exec who’s given a shot at saving the company when his boss, the constantly aggravated Sergio (Sean “P. Diddy” Combs), tasks him with escorting the rock star from his London home to a much-touted Infant Sorrow (Snow’s band) anniversary concert in Los Angeles.

From there, and only in fits and starts, hilarity ensues.

As directed by Nicholas Stoller and produced by Judd Apatow – both worked on Sarah MarshallGet Him to the Greek is a raucous riff on My Favorite Year, crammed full of cameos and zingers and topped off with a carefully calculated, scene-stealing performance by Combs. Hill is every bit the affable nitwit, an ideal target for the talent’s increasingly inconvenient demands, while Brand brings back the bawdy charm that made him Sarah Marshall’s secret weapon.

Their journey is a sporadically amusing one. The few portions that work on their own terms – an attempted threesome, an impromptu pot-and-drink binge on Aaron’s part, a madcap melee in a Vegas penthouse – are at times sublimely funny sequences, but they’re strung together with clumsy montages and moments simply too rushed to land a laugh. (A potentially hilarious encounter with a would-be drug dealer is notably botched).

Worse yet is the film’s tendency to shift between devil-may-care party antics and you-should-care domestic issues that attempt to bring Aldous’ loneliness to the fore. Unlike in Sarah Marshall or countless other Apatow productions, Greek’s comedy feels more gag-based than character-based. That makes the inclusion of such straight-faced sentiment more awkward than endearing.

It’s telling that many of the jokes in Greek’s trailer haven’t made the final cut – par for the course with any Apatow film. Maybe the critical balance between humor and heart in his films got lost on the cutting room floor with Stoller at the helm. When puke shots are given preference over any scene that more firmly establishes the friction-turned-fusion between Aaron’s idealism and Aldous’ crude sense of carpe diem, one has to wonder. All assumptions about the future DVD aside, this cut goes for the heartstrings by way of the rectum and feels sorely uneven as a result.

“Why are you making me feel like this? This is supposed to be fun!” chides Sergio over Aaron’s swerve toward genuine emotion by the end. Get Him to the Greek wants to flaunt its broken bones in your face and apologize for them too; that said, it’s doubtful that there’s a funnier misfire this year.

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