Movie Review: Get Him to the Greek

Last weekend, persuaded by above-average reviews and a recommendation from my friend Jaime, I saw Get Him to the Greek, directed by Nicholas Stoller and produced by one Judd Apatow. Yeah, I know it’s the kind of blasé summer movie I complained about in my last review. I have to admit, though, I occasionally enjoy those frat-boy movies; I even own Knocked Up on DVD (with matching coasters!). And so when I headed to the movies, I hoped that Get Him to the Greek would prove to be another enjoyable comedy.

Get Him to the Greek is a spin-off/sequel of sorts for the 2008 comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. The movie stars Jonah Hill (Funny People) as Aaron Green, an ambitious intern at a record company. One day the head of the label, Sergio (Sean “Diddy” Combs, A Raisin in the Sun), puts Aaron in charge of escorting rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand, reprising his role from Forgetting Sarah Marshall) from London to L.A.

Aaron, a huge fan of Aldous Snow, is thrilled at the opportunity and leaves for London immediately. Snow, however, has been at a low point in his career since the release of his infamous single “African Child”. He’s turned to drugs, alcohol, and may or may not be facing an existential crisis. Basically, it won’t be an easy task for the straight-laced Aaron to get Aldous Snow to his 10th anniversary concert at the Greek Theater.

I really wanted to like Get Him to the Greek, really. And some parts of it are absolutely hilarious (like the video I linked to above). This is one of those things I never thought I would write, but Diddy was great as Sergio. He had some of the movie’s best lines (“Do you have any ideas how many Air Jordans six black kids wear?”) but I kind of feel he was playing an over-the-top version of himself. I can’t complain about Hill and Brand’s performances either. I thought Rose Byrne (Damages, 28 Weeks Later) was a standout though, as Aldous’ ex-girlfriend, pop-star Jackie Q. I first noticed her in Troy, opposite Brad Pitt, and I’m glad she can do comedies as well as dramas.

So, despite the good performances, why didn’t I like the movie? Honestly, a lot of the humor just wasn’t for me. Maybe it’s a guy thing, but I can only take so many jokes about drugs/sex/vomit. Perhaps that’s why I found the tone to be really uneven- alternately funny and dull. Plus, like so many Apatow-produced movies, it dragged on just a bit too long. I don’t want to give any spoilers, but there are two particular plot points that were very out of place. As a whole, Get Him to the Greek just didn’t work for me. Aldous Snow says “When the world slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry wall” but I rather not.

Have you seen Get Him to the Greek? What do you think?

~ Sarah

Girl Crush: Tina Fey

Girl Crush is a new weekly feature in which I discuss a leading lady in show business: talented, admirable, and successful.

Tina Fey on Weekend Update

I’ve been a fan of Tina Fey for years, back when she was the first-ever female head writer at Saturday Night Live and co-anchored “Weekend Update” with Jimmy Fallon. It was always my favorite segment- I wouldn’t go to bed until I watched Fey and Fallon engage in their usual witty banter.

Tina Fey, 40, grew up in Pennsylvania and went on to attend the University of Virginia, graduating with a B.A. in drama. (True story: I seriously considered applying to UVA after I found out Fey went there.) After college, she relocated to Chicago and eventually joined Second City, a famous improv comedy troupe. Following her stint at Second City, she joined SNL as a writer in 1995. In 1999, she was promoted to head writer and the next year Fey began appearing in sketches, notably “Weekend Update”.

For plenty of people, SNL is usually the peak of their careers. Not for Tina Fey- in 2004, while still on the show, she wrote and co-starred in the teen classic Mean Girls. The movie proved to be a critical and commercial success, grossing $129 million worldwide. Then, in 2006, Tina Fey left SNL to work on a new project: 30 Rock.

The Cast of 30 Rock

On the NBC comedy , Tina Fey is a triple threat: writer, producer, actor. Oh, and did I mention she’s also the show’s creator? 30 Rock, which is a behind-the–scenes look at comedy sketch show and is based on Fey’s own experiences, was not immediately a hit with audiences. Nonetheless, the show has won numerous awards, including three Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series. Fey herself has earned plenty of accolades for playing Liz Lemon, including an Emmy.

In 2008, Fey starred in Baby Mama with her former SNL co-star Amy Poehler- the comedy opened at #1 and eventually grossed more than $60 million. That fall, Fey returned to SNL in a guest role as VP candidate Sarah Palin. Her spot-on portrayal of Palin helped boost the show’s lagging ratings and had audiences and pundits alike talking. Not only did she win another Emmy, Tina Fey was named the 2008 AP Entertainer of the Year for having the year’s “greatest impact on culture and entertainment”.

Fey at the 2008 Emmy Awards

It must be awesome to be Tina Fey. Today, 30 Rock has a growing audience and she had another box-office hit with Date Night. And I have a feeling there’s more to come for this comedy superstar- who knows, with the right material she could EGOT! (Tracy Jordan would be jealous.) Fey is one of the most influential people in show business, even appearing in the Time 100, but her life is not very Hollywood- she keeps working hard and has a daughter with husband (and 30 Rock composer) Jeff Richmond. Maybe that’s why, despite all her success, she remains grounded and humble (just listen to one of her acceptance speeches). I absolutely adore her- she’s talented, smart, and sexy. So Tina Fey, I salute you, you “mavericky” maverick.

~ Sarah

P.S. Do you love Tina Fey as much as I do? Which women in entertainment do you look up to?

Movie Review: Letters to Juliet

Ah, summer movie season. It’s full of blockbusters, frat-boy comedies, and rom-coms. Granted, I’m generalizing, but summer movies tend to get old quickly. I’ve browsed IMDB’s Summer Movie Guide and there’s not much to look forward to, unless there’s some surprise, well-reviewed hit. It hasn’t even been a week since Memorial Day- I’m not sure I’ll make it to August.

This is why my friend Daniela and I were in a bit of a dilemma yesterday, when we finally made a trip to the theater. We debated between Prince of Persia and Sex & the City. Both got terrible reviews, so we ended up buying tickets for Letters to Juliet. (Side note: I was absolutely shocked when my ticket only cost six bucks. How awesome.)

Letters to Juliet stars Amanda Seyfried as Sophie. She travels to Verona with her fiancé Victor (Gael García Bernal) on a “pre-honeymoon”. Sounds like a fairy-tale already, right? But Victor, who is opening a restaurant, begins to neglect Sophie as he meets with suppliers. Sophie is left to explore Verona when she meets the “secretaries of Juliet”. These women spend their days answering letters women left at Juliet’s courtyard, all asking for advice when it comes to love. Sophie joins them and soon finds a long-lost letter dating back fifty years. Since she can’t bear to leave the letter unanswered, Sophie writes back.

A few days later, the woman who wrote the original letter, Claire (Vanessa Redgrave), arrives in Verona inspired to search for the lover she left decades ago. After a chance encounter, Sophie joins Claire and her handsome yet pompous nephew Charlie (Christopher Egan) on their sojourn through the Italian countryside. And really, I can stop describing the plot now because the trailer gives away everything.

Despite its predictability, I found Letters to Juliet to be such a pleasant film. Even though all the leads are pretty much stock characters, the actors all give solid performances. Seyfried has come a long way from her Mean Girls days- she’s transforming into one of Hollywood’s brightest young actresses. Redgrave is just radiant- absolutely stunning. She approaches her role with such passion, her Claire becomes the star of the show. The cinematography is gorgeous: Italy is splashed with sunlight, and it helps the movie’s vibe enormously.

Although Letters to Juliet was marketed as a romantic-comedy, it’s refreshing in many ways. It’s light on the comedy (nearly no slapstick, thank goodness), with just the right amount of romance. I did tear up occasionally but it was no tearjerker like The Notebook. It was great to see a romance set outside of New York City (for the most part) because compared to the usual, glossy chick flicks, Letters to Juliet feels intimate and sincere. The movie doesn’t revolve around the relationship between Sophie and Charlie, leaving room to for audiences to connect with Claire’s story. And her story is a great one, even if it is a modern fairy-tale.

This may seem like a non-sequitur, but the movie made me ridiculously hungry. Just the sight of gelato- Italy itself is mouth-watering. And you know those never-ending bread sticks at Olive Garden? They may not be real Italian or all that filling, but are still incredibly delicious, warm, and real. Well, that’s Letters to Juliet. Bon appetit.

Sarah