I’ll go out on a limb and declare that Aldous Snow may be the best cinematic comic character of the past few years. He’s by far the high point of Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which is much better than I expected generally — saw it on t.v. recently) and is hilarious throughout the Aldous Snow vehicle Get Him to the Greek.
[photo removed b/c I think too many people were coming here from Google Image search]
(Is there a technical term for this kind of narrative spin-off, when a secondary character in one narrative becomes the protagonist of a subsequent one? Anyway, to truly understand Get Him to the Greek in all its nuances you might need to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall, although I suppose it’s not absolutely necessary. There’s a funny reference to the previous movie in GHTTG when Snow catches a clip of Sarah Marshall, who’s a t.v. actress, and a light bulb goes off: “I think I shagged her once!” or some such.)
I haven’t paid too much attention to Russell Brand, the comedian who plays Snow… and maybe if I had I’d be slightly less amused by his alter ego? Dunno. Anyway, Brand is absolutely spot-on as a hypersexual, fatuous yet sort of brilliant, degenerate, spoiled, louche, drug-gobbling, Cockney Jim Morrison knock-off. His insinuating eyebrow expressions alone are worth the ticket to Get Him to the Greek.
It’s a performance worth considering in the line of modern British comedy greats from John Cleese through Jennifer Saunders and Ricky Gervais. In fact, when Brand/Snow is a bit irritated or peeved about something, whiny, he can remind me a lot of those three, although the effect is very different in the body/persona of a rock and roll sex god. (See the letter U. clip below — either Cleese, Saunders or Gervais would’ve killed this one too.)
While I’m on the topic: Get Him to the Greek is pretty gross and frat-boy/ potty-humor filled, but its gender politics are actually not so bad. Elisabeth Moss (aka Peggy Olson in Mad Men) is good in the seemingly thankless role of the fiance whose dull embrace Jonah Hill must flee to set the movie’s plot into motion. You assume he’ll end up dumping her for someone flashier. But (SPOILER ALERT) in the end he actually moves with her to Seattle so she can take up her medical residency there; he’s absolutely the trailing spouse and ultimately he’s happy to move to accommodate her career. (Of course he gets everything he wants in any case, but I was sort of impressed by the way this unrolled.) Despite less gross-out sexual humor in FSM it’s probably worse on gender at least if you judge by the climactic scene where Jason Segal’s character declares Sarah Marshall to be “the devil”(!) — she becomes a kind of fantasy figure of the vilified terrible ex-girlfriend.
Here’s Brand in an audition tape from Forgetting Sarah Marshall:
And here’s Aldous becoming infuriated while filming an episode about the letter U. for a children’s t.v. show (he thinks the puppeteer’s “not committing to this”):