GET HIM TO THE GREEK:

Spin-offs are no longer the domain of television series since this movie brings back randy, British rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) from the very funny FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (2008). This follow-up finds Snow falling on hard times and off the wagon after a marital break-up and the release of an African-themed album judged the worst thing to hit that continent since apartheid. In a plot that pretty much rips off MY FAVORITE YEAR (1982), an eager junior music executive (Jonah Hill) is charged with getting the decadent, self-destructive rocker from London to Los Angeles in three days for a comeback concert (See critic’s note.). As convincing as he is playing a musician, especially during the TODAY performance, Brand lacks the complexity and dramatic range needed to give his character the depth and layers required. There are some genuinely clever barbs fired at the music industry that are so subtle that viewers may miss the intended satire. Even if most of the humor is of the physical and raunchy variety, it’s still laugh inducing at times. Note the last two words of the previous sentence because there are just as many sequences in this film that lie twitching like a dying cockroach as illustrated by the subplots involving Snow’s estranged wife (Rose Byrne), his absentee, guitar-playing father (Colm Meaney) and a “three-way” with Hill (SUPERBAD) and his girlfriend (Elisabeth Moss) which would have benefited GREEK by being left out. The uneven nature of director/writer Nicholas Stoller’s screenplay and his uneasy transitions from scene to scene make this a much less comedic effort that his work on FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (2008). It’s a spin-off that spun off track too often. CRITIC’S GRADE: C+

CRITIC’S NOTE: In MY FAVORITE YEAR (1982), a young writer (Mark Linn-Baker) is put in charge of chaperoning a hard-drinking British movie swashbuckler (Peter O’Toole) through an appearance on a live television show circa 1954. Equally similar to GREEK is a storyline involving O’Toole’s (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA) separation from his small child. More than coincidence? I think not.