LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Having swiped the spotlight from top-billed castmates on more than one occasion, Jonah Hill and Russell Brand are rewarded with lead status in “Get Him to the Greek,” only to see the show stolen by others, notably the artist formerly known as P. Diddy.
A reunion with “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” director Nicholas Stoller that pays far fewer comic dividends, the stop-start R-rated excursion never achieves the propulsive traction and outrageous/endearing balance that made “The Hangover” such a smash this time last year.
Lacking a sturdier venue, the fat boy and the bad boy are at best opening acts in a moviegoing season powered by headliners.
As such, the Universal release, which opens Friday (June 4), will not likely prove to be a sizable draw, though the scarcity of bawdy, male-skewing comedies in the marketplace could work in its favor.
Reprising his foppish British rocker character from the Jason Segel-penned “Sarah Marshall,” Brand plays Aldous Snow, who has since been in a career free fall.
Reeling from a disastrous concept single/video (the reviled “African Child”) and a split from girlfriend Jackie Q (a terrific Rose Byrne), Aldous has taken a potentially irreparable plunge off the wagon.
Enter Hill’s Aaron Green, an ambitious record company executive in the employ of the certifiably nutty Sergio Roma (Sean Combs), who thinks that the upcoming 10th anniversary of Snow’s triumphant concert at Los Angeles’ famed Greek Theater could make for a lucrative comeback gig.
Liking what he hears, Sergio gives Aaron three days to fetch Snow from London and personally escort him to the Greek, with the caveat that he will be dealing with “the worst person on Earth.”
Needless to say, there will be a lot of rerouting on the trip back, but despite the occasional onscreen appearance of a digital countdown clock, writer-director Stoller never seems to be in any hurry to move the characters and plot along.
Although Brand, who makes for credible damaged rock ‘n’ roll goods with a singing voice to match, and a subdued Hill manage to lay down a few scattered, genuinely funny riffs, the larger laughs are provided by the supporting players.
Combs doesn’t so much deliver his lines as announce them, and every time he pops up, he lends the listless proceedings a gonzo boost; and Byrne’s bubbly Brit pop star hits the inspired mark.
Detours to New York and Las Vegas provide for a slew of cameos, including Lars Ulrich, Christina Aguilera, Pink, Rick Schroder and, in a show of NBC Universal corporate solidarity, “Today‘s” Meredith Vieira and a green-room guest, noted economist Paul Krugman.
But even with the personality parade, “Greek” never really finds its comic bearings.