Movie reviews: Get Him To The Greek, The Collector, Whatever Works, When In Rome.
GET HIM TO THE GREEK * *
Cert 15, 108 mins
If you don’t know what Russell Brand stands for by now then run a mile from this film.
Building on his Hollywood debut in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, his Aldous Snow rock star character remains a striking physical presence with a tiresome child-like desire to be outrageous.
Even if you don’t mind the better gross-out comedies, Brand’s one-joke, born to be wild persona soon wears thin in a smutty story which fails to generate any of the tension you’d expect from a race against the clock plot.
For the benefit of his struggling record company, Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) has had the idea of resurrecting Snow’s career ten years after his peak.
But he somehow doesn’t realise as much as we do just how difficult it will be to get him from London to LA and then on to the stage, too.
Feeling like a very laboured version of The Hangover, Get Him To The Greek is a bitter pill to swallow in comparison.
The humour is relentlessly juvenile, with only one hotel sequence offering any pace.
Musically, Snow sounds like a rock dinosaur whose pathetic lyrics would have even sunk Elvis’s career.
With nothing in his back catalogue to match a soundtrack which includes Come On Eileen, Anarchy In The UK and 20th Century Boy, it’s no surprise that Get Him To The Greek ends up feeling like a very long bum note. GY
WHEN IN ROME * *
Cert PG, 90 mins
It may be coincidence that Kristen Bell, Russell Brand’s co-star from Forgetting Sarah Marshall – she played the title role – also has a new release in the same week as him.
She suffers in comparison, though. While there are problems with Get Him To The Greek, it does have several amusing moments, which are notably lacking in this lame romcom.
Bell plays ambitious New York museum curator Beth, who’s unlucky in love. To rub salt into the wound, her sister gets married to a hot Italian after just a fortnight.
Beth flies to Rome for the wedding and is attracted to best man Nick (Josh Duhamel), until she spots him kissing another girl. Thoroughly fed up with romance, she jumps into the ‘fountain of love’, into which lonely singles throw in coins and wish for love.
She drunkenly steals four coins and a poker chip and suddenly finds herself pursued by a gang of suitors who declare themselves madly in love with her. One of them is Nick, but does he really like her or is he under this bizarre curse? Do we care, with such a ridiculous plot and silly slapstick?
On the up side, it has a decent cast, but class acts like Anjelica Huston aren’t given enough to do. And Danny DeVito has to say awful lines like “There’s not an emotion on earth that can’t be expressed through sausage.” RL
WHATEVER WORKS * * *
Cert 12A, 91 mins
After a sojourn in London and Barcelona, Woody Allen is back to making films in his beloved New York City.
He’s cast another crotchety, sarcastic Jew in Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David. He plays physicist Boris, forever telling everyone what a genius he is and believing that life is “cruel, dog-eat-dog, black chaos”.
Turning to talk to the audience (a habit which gets a little annoying), he reveals he’s tried to commit suicide and tells us: “Just so you know, this isn’t a feelgood movie.”
Actually, that’s not true.
Boris’s fortunes look up when he shows he has a heart and takes in a homeless girl – though he calls her a ‘simpleton’.
Melody (Evan Rachel Wood) is a sweet but dim Southern belle who inexplicably falls for the rude man almost old enough to be her grandfather.
Then into their lives comes Melody’s mother (superb Patricia Clarkson), who quickly sheds her God-fearing persona to become a promiscuous artist, while trying to fix her daughter up with handsome Brit Henry Cavill.
Not a great deal happens in a film which is very dialogue heavy and feels like a play, but there’s some snappy banter and funny observations.
It’s not classic Woody Allen, despite him writing it 40 years ago, but you’ll be fairly entertained. RL
THE COLLECTOR *
Cert 18, 90 mins
US President Barack Obama has been exercising himself with the BP oil slick crisis in recent weeks. But he could do humanity just as good a service if he challenged Hollywood’s obsession with churning out filth like this.
Director Marcus Dunstan seems to be fixated with letting us see people being tortured and chopped up in ever more perverted ways.
In case you haven’t heard of him, Dunstan has written films four, five and six in the now annual Saw series, with part seven due this October.
The Collector is just a variation on a very repulsive theme.
Desperate to repay debts, Arkin (Josh Stewart) decides to rob a family home where he’s been working, only to discover that sadistic criminal The Collector (Juan Fernández) has booby-trapped it.
Can he help any of the people already trapped there? Can he even save himself?
You’ll soon be past caring as the volume and elaborate nature of the traps robs the film of any tension, while at the same time sending the gore factor well beyond what is both plausible and acceptable.
Sick is the word. GY