GET HIM TO THE GREEK ***1/2
Spinning off the most entertaining character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek is a bawdy, ribald and very funny flic that revels in its outrageousness. Jonah Hill (who was also in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but as a completely different character) here plays a junior record executive who is entrusted by the head of his label (hilariously and delightfully played by Sean Puff Diddy Combs) to bring rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) from his home in London to the Greek Theatre in LA in time for a major gig. The obvious trouble here is that Aldous is a supreme hedonist, and would pretty much rather do anything (including any drug or sexual partner) than get on the appropriate planes to make it to the gig on time. The set-up and plot all flow out pretty predictably from there, but there are some extremely funny gags, set pieces and performances – including a delicious send-up of Naughty Brit Pop vacuousness by a completely unexpected Rose Byrne, showing great comic chops. There are some pretty loose connections in the film (sometimes its very choppy, implying that whole scenes that advanced the plot ended up on the cutting room floor), and if you don’t like seeing drug-taking on screen then the film won’t be for you, but overall, it’s a very funny ride.
CITY ISLAND ***1/2
Three words: Andy Garcia comedy. The nice thing is, he’s delightful as Vince Rozzo, the head of a family living on the amazingly exotic City Island, a one-mile square island located just off the Bronx, with views of most of New York’s boroughs yet feeling more like it belongs in New England, full of wooden houses, fisherman and charming taverns. The comic device here – besides the locale – is that every member of the family has a secret or two, and its inevitable that they must come out. The catalyst for the house of cards to tumble and fall is Vince, a corrections officer, realising that a new inmate is his long-abandoned son. If it sounds heavy, it’s not – indeed the whole concoction is as light and breezy as the long summer days in which it is set; the conflicts never feel too sharp, the language remains calm – if loud (this family likes to raise its voice) – and it’ll all wash over you with great pleasantness and some genuine belly laughs, particularly given that Alan Arkin’s in the cast as a grumpy old acting teacher. A quiet pleasure.