We Bought a Zoo
A widowed father played by Matt Damon moves to the South Californian country and purchases a zoo with his family
On Film4: 31 Aug 6:25PM
Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) has 72 hours to get a drunken junkie rock star (Russell Brand) to LA. Needless to say, this task proves to be like herding drunken junkie cats
As concepts go, the seemingly simple task of getting a famous ego to do, well, anything they don't want to do is such an obviously rich one, it's a wonder it hasn't been done hundreds of times. It's something that pops up briefly in plenty of films, but rarely forms the entire backbone of the narrative. In Get Him To The Greek, junior record exec Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) must escort British rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) to a venue in LA. He has 72 hours. And unlike many of 2010's comedies so far, hilarity does indeed ensue.
Russell Brand proves here that the talent for comic acting suggested by his bit part as the same character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall was no fluke. He reprises the character as a lead this time out, only now he's an Aldous Snow who's off the wagon, off the road, and off the part of the map where the roads are marked. Although this all takes place in the same universe as Sarah Marshall, it's not a sequel, and Jonah Hill's character is not the same guy he played in the first film. So it's sort of a spin-off, but also sort of not - either way, it really, really, really doesn't matter; this is a Judd Apatow produced comedy, not a sci-fi-franchise pedant-magnet.
Although the two leads are excellent, the supporting roles are in danger of outshining them - Rose Byrne is hilarious as vulgar nouveau riche rock-poppet Jackie Q - think Liam Gallagher in a crotch exposing skirt - who dates Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich (cameoing as himself). Jackie Q's crude, spot-on music videos (including 'Ring Round My Rosie', directed by Brett Ratner, and 'Supertight', sample lyric: "It's gonna get precarious, I'm a motherfucking Stradivarius / This song's gonna get serious, rub your bow against my clitoris") spoof the hyper-sexualised world of promos for female artists, from Girls Aloud to Lady Gaga, and arguably hit the mark better than the generally straighter songs Aldous himself gets to perform.
Not to give the impression that Hill and Brand own nothing about this film, but they're certainly subject to a bit of a supporting actor's heist, as another rampant focus-puller appears in the form of Aaron Green's record label boss. A demented creation named Sergio, fleshed out by Sean Combs (aka various silly rap names), he ram-raids everything of value from most of his scenes, and is all the better because he starts off relatively low-key before scaling the heights of trailer-friendly madness.
Unlike many Apatow/frat pack comedies, Get Him To The Greek doesn't feel the need to append an entire half hour's worth of hugging and learning to what should be a 90 minute comedy (see: the last half hour of The 40 Year Old Virgin, the last half hour of Wedding Crashers, the second hour of Funny People). There's 10 minutes of hugging and learning, tops. For this, and for those fantastic supporting characters, this rude, gag-strewn three-star comedy gets an extra star.
Get Him To The Greek has its fair share of dumb laughs, but the genuine comic highs and brilliant character work outweigh the lows - you'll laugh throughout.
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