Get Him to the Greek

The movies produced by Judd Apatow are as much about the love between platonic friends — male friends — as they are about the in-all-but-one-case required love between men and women.* Think of Seth Rogen rescuing James Franco in “Pineapple Express,” or Michael Cera and Jonah Hill drunkenly confessing their feelings in “Superbad.” This theme has never been handed subtly, but “Get Him to the Greek” finally bleaches all of the subtext away. In a crucial scene, music industry flunky Aaron (Hill) is guilted into a three-way with rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) by his girlfriend, the put-upon and harried Daphne (Elizabeth Moss). Daphne seems to be enjoying the three-way a bit too much. Aaron sees that Aldous is about to, well, enter her. In order to stop him, he grabs Aldous and kisses him passionately, then grabs his penis (“the emperor,” Aldous calls it). No one extracts much pleasure from this, and the three-way ends so we can move the story along.

As this unfolds, it’s awkwardly hysterical. I’d say most of the movie is hysterical — for the first two acts, we don’t go more than twenty seconds without a joke. Nicholas Stoller directs all of this beautifully, after “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” (this is a quasi-sequel, with Brand reprising his role as Aldous) failed to reveal very much craft or ability to clip scenes down to the stuff that mattered. This time he’s discovered the joys of fast pacing, with arrivals to new cities handled by quick scenery montages, and plenty of story told with faithful fake commercials and TV segments.

Oh, yes, the story — Aaron convinces his boss, Sergo (played loudly and brilliantly by Sean “Diddy” Combs), that what their record company needs is a 10th anniversary concert for Aldous, which will bring in syndication rights from the web and cable and re-ignite interest in the fading star’s back catalogue. Aldous needs that, because since the release of his disastrously pretentious album “African Child,” he’s lost his model/singer girlfriend and staggered off the wagon into a self-destructive Pete Doherty lost weekend/third-of-a-decade. So Aldous, after a surprise break-up with Daphne, is dispatched to bring Aldous from London to Los Angeles. He gives in to every temptation, dazzled by his new friend and the sex, drugs and luck that follow him everywhere, as long as he makes the occasional sacrifice like chugging a whiskey flask so Aldous can’t wreck himself before a TV hit.

*the exception being “Funny People”