SHENANIGANS WITH GREEK & MICMACS
GET HIM TO THE GREEK – Released Friday, June 04, 2010
When I was growing up, I wanted to be two things: a movie director and a rock star. I’m still working on the former, while I briefly dabbled as a thrash metal drummer in my late teens, early 20’s.
So with that in mind, it pleases me very much whenever a movie appears that combines my love for cinema and love for rock music (like Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical ALMOST FAMOUS).
Now the Judd Apatow-produced GET HIM TO THE GREEK is nowhere in league with Crowe’s epic journey into rock n roll hedonism. Yet hedonism is the one thing they both have in common – even more so with GREEK. Yep, plenty of sex, drugs and and pop-tinged rock n roll (albeit with some outrageously funny lyrics – taking things into Weird Al Yankovic territory).
In GREEK he plays an entirely different lead character, Aaron Green – a milquetoast record company rep, whom has a not-so stable one-sided relationship with Daphne (played by MAD MEN’s Elisabeth Moss). One day, he presents the bright idea to his record company boss Sergio Ross (Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs)of having his rock star idol and now has-been Snow perform a high profile gig, celebrating the ten year anniversary live album of him playing the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. According to Green’s calculations, this event would bring the company millions of dollars in much-needed beaucoup revenue and simultaneously resurrect Snow’s ailing career. Ross gives him 72 hours to get Snow to… you guessed it!!!
So, off to merry ole England Green goes, where his nervousness and unintentional cultural insensitivities immediately garner awkward reactions from the Brits he encounters.
Similar to Ben Stiller’s TROPIC THUNDER, GET HIM TO THE GREEK opens with a montage of faux videos, MTV appearances and unwanted TMZ profiles, chronicling Aldous Snow’s downhill slide into obscurity after releasing a controversial (but supposedly well-meaning) song titled “African Child” that has been referred to as “the worst thing to happen to Africa since apartheid.” Making Snow’s situation worse is his public break-up with his lover/muse the ultra-raunchy Jackie Q (hilariously played by Rose Byrne of 28 WEEKS LATER), whom he shares a son with.
The movie basically employs the typical buddy travelling conventions, like PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES or even an older flick like THE LAST DETAIL (a shout out to my buddy Jim Hemphill for bringing up that comparison).
Some critics are calling GREEK as this year’s THE HANGOVER. Maybe it is. Unfortunately, I feel that both HANGOVER & GREEK don’t live up to the high expectations I had from viewing their humorous trailers.
THE HANGOVER Trailer
GET HIM TO THE GREEK Trailer
Plus it goes into some slightly unexpected dark dramedy areas, where Russell Brand shows some impressive acting chops. I admit I was totally drawn in (though as a raunchy comedy film, I could’ve done without those moments (or at least tone it down a tad). I realize there has to have character arcs, and this being a mainstream movie, there must be the typical plot turns we see in the three act structure (with the characters learning something blah blah blah), etc. But writer/director Nicholas Stoller could’ve done a better job at masking that. This element was actually too predictable for my taste, especially the Jonah Hill/ Elisabeth Moss relationship subplot, which was very lackluster except for when Brand’s character interjected himself. Bottom line, there was plenty of room to raise the stakes in the comedy. But thanks to Brand, Bryne and Combs, I still enjoyed the movie. Combs nearly steals the show in a similar way that Tom Cruise did in TROPIC THUNDER. He takes the art of “mindfucking” to a whole new level.
Prior to viewing this movie, I had not watched anything from Brand (not a film, his comedy routines or even his MTV award show appearances). I didn’t get the appeal he has, especially with the ladies (other than his looks). But after watching him play this rock star character, I can see the magnetic rock n roll charisma he exudes.
When I read that he was going to play the lead in the upcoming remake of ARTHUR (1980) – a role that Dudley Moore was absolutely amazing in – I was worried. Now having seen a glimpse of what Brand could do with dramatic/comedy material (as briefly employed in GREEK), he could possibly pulls the role off very well, depending on the direction the filmmakers will take it. Acting-wise, I’m sold. It almost seems that GREEK was a little test run for ARTHUR. You be the judge.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
MICMACS (2009) – Limited Release (in America) Friday, May 28, 2010
Once upon a time, iconic Hong Kong director John Woo made an epic action/war drama called BULLET IN THE HEAD. In that film one of the main characters ends up with a bullet forever lodged in his head, causing him to go mad. Well many years later, surrealist French filmmaker Jean Pierre Jeunet brings his own take with his lead character Bazil (Dany Boon) in his latest cinematic adventure MICMACS.
You see, one night Bazil witnesses a shootout taking place in front of the videostore he works at, and a stray bullet hits him square in his noggin, lodging itself into his frontal lobe. The doctors flip a coin to see if they should risk removing the bullet or leave it in place. Either way, Bazil is – to put it bluntly – FUCKED!
But before that happens we are introduced to Bazil as a child, when his soldier father was killed by a roadside bomb. The company logo on the mine shown in a photograph stays in his memory as he gets older.
Now back to the present. Released from the hospital, Bazil finds himself without a home and without a job. He befriends a man named Placard (Jean-Pierre Marielle) whom introduces him to a band of misfits living undetected within their junkyard dwelling – each of them gifted with a unique ability that gets put to good use during the film. One of the misfits is long time Jeunet collaborator Dominique Pinion as Fracasse.
Once welcomed into this group, Bazil convinces them to help him get revenge on the two rival warmongers – Nicolas Thibault de Fenouillet (André Dussollier) and François Marconi (Nicolas Marié), both of whom were responsible in supplying the weapons that killed his father and nearly himself -the bullet in his head was manufactured by one of the warmongering companies.
MICMACS plays out like AMELIE’s grungier cousin with the emphasis on the protagonist and his ability to influence others around him, much like Amelie did with the regular patrons and workers inside that Parisian cafe.
The main concept of pitting rivals against each other is reminiscent of Akira Kurosawa’s YOJIMBO (1961), and even the re-imaginings by Sergio Leone with A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964), and Walter Hill’s LAST MAN STANDING (1996). What makes this scenario even more comically interesting is that the rivals are located directly across the street from one another. Very convenient for our heroes, yet also tricky to go about undetected from either side.
The movie has the cinematic stylish flair we’ve come to expect from a Jeunet film – a true auteur in every sense of the word. His world is impeccably detailed in the set design in conjunction with the cinematography (via camera movements, angles, lenses and lighting). The color palette has a near sepia-tone quality, giving the film a vintage photograph feel.
Jeunet even references classic films, using the Max Steiner score from THE BIG SLEEP (1946) and showing clips from CASABLANCA (1942), dubbed in French. Even his opening titles resembles the films of yesteryear.
MICMACS, like all of Jeunet’s films (minus ALIEN RESURRECTION and the awesomely dark and epically romantic war drama A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT) is quirky fun, punctuated with cartoon violence. If you’re one to drink from Jeunet rum punch like I do, then you must down yourself a shot of MICMACS. And then stumble out of theater with a glorious buzz.
Click here to check the —> MICMACS Website
Rating 4 our of 5 stars