June 3, 2010 at 8:27 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'Get Him to the Greek' -- GRADE: B-

Review: Uneven 'Get Him to the Greek' may be this summer's 'Hangover'

Tom Long reviews 'Get Him To The Greek'
Tom Long reviews 'Get Him To The Greek': Tom Long reviews 'Get Him To The Greek'

In "Get Him to the Greek," the Greek is a theater few people outside of California know exists, and the Him is Russell Brand, a comic actor few people outside of Britain and MTV's demographic know exists.

The most known factor involved in the film is Jonah Hill, the co-star of "Superbad" and a ubiquitous chubby supporting player in a string of successful comedies.

The film is written and directed by Nicholas Stoller, whose one other directing credit was the somewhat underwhelming though moderately successful "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," which co-starred ... Jonah Hill and Russell Brand.

Considering these less-than-stellar credentials, "Get Him to the Greek" is a rousing success story in that it's a raunchy fun-bag of a movie that could fill the lowbrow comic slot "The Hangover" scored in last summer.

It's got booze and barf and strange cameos (who ever thought Meredith Viera and Lars Ulrich would appear in the same movie?) and gratuitous flesh and more booze and barf and all sorts of unapologetic drug use.

It also blows very hot at times and then stops on ice. As a writer, Stoller has a good feel for funny scenes and an ear for his actors, but as a director, he tends to run into walls.

Hill plays Aaron Green, working for a struggling record company run by Sergio Roma (an unexpectedly hilarious Sean "Diddy" Combs) and living with his medical intern girlfriend Daphne (Elisabeth Moss from "Mad Men," showing fine comic flair).

When Sergio is looking for ideas to revive the company, Aaron comes up with bringing back onetime major star Aldous Snow (Brand) for a 10th anniversary show at the Greek Theater in L.A., to be broadcast on cable and sold on DVD.

There are a few problems. Snow's last album was the biggest embarrassment in the history of recorded culture, he's a famous drug addict, and he hasn't performed in years. So three days before the show, Sergio sends Aaron to London to collect Snow, take him to New York for the "Today" show, and then bring him to L.A.

At which point, the party's on.

The premise is supremely simple, pitting Aaron's pudgy sincerity against Snow's rock god indulgence, the sweet angel falling for the devil's lifestyle. You know in the end righteousness will prevail. But it takes a while.

This is personality comedy, and Brand and Hill have it to spare. It's hard to know if Brand really does spend a lot of time in life massaging his lips with his tongue, but the gesture is perfect for Aldous Snow. And yes, this is Hill doing his shtick ... but he does it so well.

The film is also helped mightily by the perfectly lewd songs composer Lyle Workman has come up with for Snow, as well as Rose Byrne's unrecognizable turn as his longtime love.

But still ... the movie stumbles more than it should. A real director would have helped. "Get Him to the Greek" gets the yuks, but it could have offered a less bumpy ride.

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Jonah Hill, left, and Russell Brand, right, run from Sean "Diddy" Combs in the comedy "Get Him to the Greek." / Universal
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