'Get Him to the Greek' is a total mess

Regarding "Get Him to the Greek," where to begin. Let's start with this: the film is landfill. It's the equivalent of watching a garbage truck arriving at a dumpsite, backing up and unloading a pile of trash while insisting it's serious, comedic moviemaking.

I know, that sounds hyperbolic, ungenerous and perhaps a bit un-hip and certainly cranky. Guilty on all counts. But movies of this ilk are so acutely tiresome and vacuous and cynical that it's astonishing that actors of credible talent can convince themselves that the scripted characters in "Get Him to the Greek" amount to anything more then lazy caricatures and the plot anything but an overlong exploration of debauchery and depravity, mixed with sustained misogyny wherein women are nothing more than adornments to be used and discarded.

The antecedents to this latest summer mess, produced by Judd Apatow and the usual suspects, are "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and, tangentially, "Funny People." Apatow has found real success creating boy-men characters who have bonded with a bong pipe and who suffer from terminal arrested development. His latest incarnation is an aging, desperate rocker, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), poster child for bad-boy narcissism, purveyor of heavy metal and screaming lyrics, trapped in perpetual acting-out, an insatiable binge drinking, drug using, self-destructive wastoid who, having contracted chronic promiscuity at a young age, is still in the hunt for mindless coupling with empty-headed young women while arguing that this is rock 'n' roll, man. Which is the extent of his ability to abstract or have a coherent conversation. You could run dental floss from ear to ear and not hit an obstruction.

Relevant factoid: "The Greek" is the Los Angeles Greek Theatre, where the concert is slated to take place and not a bookie in Las Vegas. Getting Aldous there is the job of Aaron Green (Jonah Hill), obsequious go-fer, in servitude to Sergio (Sean Combs), trash-talking major booking agent, who needs Aldous in L.A. in 72 hour, which is when the mega-concert kicks off. "Get Him to the Greek" is, therefore, a road trip of hapless moments spiked by absinthe and Jack Daniels and heroin balloons placed in the tush of do-anything-for-the-job Green. There is actually an interesting love story, between Green and hospital resident, Daphne (Elisabeth Moss), buried beneath the sludge. Coulda, shoulda. Hill, after his breakout movie, "Superbad," still isn't exactly a romantic lead, pudgy critter that he is, but he has counterintuitive possibilities.

Anyway, you get the drift. Not a moment of "Get Him to the Greek" will be a wit better on DVD, so no point in waiting.

As an aside, film is an inspirational medium, created to tell stories, to involve audiences in a journey. Characters should be developed and explored. Stories should plumb the infinite complexities of the human condition. That isn't to say movies can't be comedic, light-hearted and clever, sobering and sad, as well as uniquely dark — noir mysteries, sci-fi adventures, apocalyptic foreshadowing. It's about telling a story that resonates. Film can do that like nothing else. Anything less is a betrayal of an art form.


This may not be startlingly new information, but there are two types of E.T.s, so to speak, in science fiction/horror films; the permutations of each have been explored endlessly by filmmakers.

What do extra-terrestrials look like? How did they get here? Or if we go to them, how would they and their habitat be imagined? Are they a cast of strange creatures such as those created by George Lucas in "Star Wars"? Or are they the fragile, luminescent, almond-eyed, bi-pedal E.T.s of "Encounters of the Third Kinds"? Or are they similar to the long-necked, large eyed visitor in the film "E.T." who simply wants to phone home? The most compelling and unnerving and wonderfully terrifying E.T. has to be the silver-toothed, acid-dripping monster in "Alien." A close second is the brilliantly conceived Rastafarian tonsured hunter of men in "Predator." And not to forget the strange, tongue-clicking extra-terrestrials in the more recent "District Nine."

In any case, visitors to earth from outer space have offered up countless hours of entertainment, the arrivals a panoply of humanoid hybrids, friendly and not so friendly, some possessing powers beyond anything Earth has ever encountered, fine examples found in "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "War of the Worlds."

The second type of extra-terrestrial, using the term loosely, is the homegrown variety, examples being zombies and vampires and humans possessed by some satanic, projectile-vomiting, head-swiveling spirit. Of course, the laboratory creations of the likes of Dr. Frankenstein have been SOP in Hollywood for decades.

Scientific experiments gone awry are a predictable source of domestic E.T.s, and the just-released "Splice," a creepy and off-center horror film, at least in act I, is a good example.

The film also has some fine talent in the persons of Oscar winner Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley.

Brodey and Polley are Clive and Elsa, bio-engineers working for a major pharmaceutical company. They are pushing the genetic research envelope regarding new life forms to its farthest edge, setting in motion a series of unintended consequences resulting in an organism that presents them with startling new possibilities.

All discussions regarding ethics, even prison, are subsumed by the exigencies of the evolving E.T., hidden away in the bowels of the lab. The questions being begged through acts II and III are what will the newbie eventually look like and does it have a dark side?

It's when Dren (its name), maturing rapidly, achieves adulthood that this weird, pulp-cinema flick drops off a cliff into the absurd. Suddenly Clive, who seemed levelheaded, the team's anchor, begins to look at Dren as if maybe he's thinking of dating her/it. Right. Clive is improbably attracted to something not dissimilar from the E.T.s in M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs," to include the chicken legs and the halting gait. It gets worse. Of course, when in doubt, dredge up "Rosemary's Baby" and that seminal moment when Mia Farrow is pregnant with God knows what in her womb. Ditto for Elsa. Smash-cut to credits.

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