Get Him to the Greek, Nicholas Stoller, 108 mins (15)
Good Hair, Jeff Stilson, 95 mins (12A)
Brand's mad dash is going nowhere fast
Sunday 27 June 2010
You show me a film with Judd Apatow's name on the credits, and I'll show you a film that should be 15 minutes shorter.
However much you may enjoy the comedies he's directed (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) and produced (Superbad, Pineapple Express), they always feel like extended DVD edits with the deleted scenes slotted back in. That may not be much of a problem in Apatow's standard-issue male-bonding larks, but it's fatal in a ticking-clock farce where time is supposed to be of the essence. Exhibit A: Get Him to the Greek.
A sequel of sorts to 2008's Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it features Russell Brand as the Russell Brand-like rock star he played in that film. He's now a washed-up drug fiend, but his biggest fan, Jonah Hill, works for his record company, and believes he can revive Brand's career with an anniversary concert at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles. Hill's boss, Sean "Puff Daddy/P Diddy/etc" Combs, goes along with the idea, but for reasons which are as vague as the rest of the film's plotting, the deal isn't finalised until three days before the concert. Hill's job is to ensure that Brand gets from London to LA in one piece, even if he falls to pieces himself in the process.
It should be a hair-raising dash, and yet, because Get Him to the Greek is produced by Apatow, it's going nowhere fast. Brand's character may be a pain in Hill's rear (literally, on occasion), but he's not the human hurricane that would give the film a sense of jeopardy, and the delays in the journey have less to do with his not-very-wild, wild-man antics than with the rambling chats he has with his dad (Colm Meaney), his ex-wife (Rose Byrne), and anyone else he bumps into. Set pieces dawdle by in no particular order, and there's never any danger that Hill won't get him to the Greek on time.
Lazy as the film might be, there are funny moments scattered through it. Brand has his usual unique way with a florid turn of phrase, and he plumbs some hidden depths when he's baring the anger and loneliness beneath the dandy highwayman mask. Hill, though alarmingly egg-shaped, is an endearingly vulnerable fall guy. And Combs is a revelation, too, as he lends his scenes an urgency that's lacking in the others. These three characters all deserve a better film – preferably one that isn't an Apatow production.
Good Hair is Chris Rock's documentary about the black female hair industry in America, a gigantic enterprise built not just on its customers' self-loathing – the whole beauty business is guilty of that – but on their ethnic inferiority complexes. What does it say about black pride when so many African-American women, up to and including Michelle Obama, have their hair straightened with scalp-melting chemical "relaxers", and many more of them wear "weaves" of long, straight, primarily Asian off-cuts?
Rock doesn't get to the roots of the issue. Although his interviewees include Maya Angelou and the Rev Al Sharpton, he'd always rather crack a one-liner than ask a tough question. But he's a witty guide to a startling phenomenon. In one scene, some black students confess that they wouldn't employ anyone who kept her "natural" hair. In another, a hairdresser loses a styling contest because it's deemed unoriginal to cut a client's hair while hanging upside down from a trapeze.
Also Showing: 27/06/10
The Collector (90 mins, 18)
More gore from the writers of Saw IV and Saw V, as various cyphers are gouged and gutted in a booby-trapped house. The villain is a motiveless non-entity, but if you enjoy watching people have their bodies rammed with sharp implements, then you'll get exactly what you paid for.
Villa Amalia (94 mins, 15)
Isabelle Huppert plays a concert pianist who decides to quit her career, sell her flat, and embark on a completely different life. The details of her Reggie Perrin-ish disappearing act are interesting, but there's not much else going on.
When in Rome (90 mins, PG)
When Kristen Bell attends her sister's wedding in Rome – a wacky olde-worlde place where mobile phones and the internet don't work – she pinches five coins from the fictitious "fountain of love" (why not a genuine Roman fountain?) thereby causing the five men who deposited the coins to fall under her spell. File alongside Letters To Juliet in a box marked, "Why Hollywood Rom-Coms Should Be Banned From Shooting in Italy".
Nicholas Barber sings along to When You're Strange, a documentary about his favourite band, the Doors
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