The Review: Ah, Russell Brand. About an hour before writing this review, I was making my weekly call to my mother to tell her about all the things I haven’t yet done with my life, and her one and only reaction to Mr Brand’s mention was “Eurgh! Oh! He’s disgusting.” And it would be fair to say that this British dandy splits tastes, and has managed to get himself a partly sullied reputation in the UK for some of the things he’s done in the past few years. Which is what makes him absolutely perfect to take on the role of a middle aged rock star who swans around looking like the scruffier end of the upper classes and uses phrases like “affable nitwit”. At times, Brand is so good in the role that you forget he’s actually playing a role.
But the fact that he’s so suited to the role may be what’s driven this spin-off from Forgetting Sarah Marshall which, like me, you’ve probably forgotten most of, apart from Russell Brand’s English rocker Aldous Snow. You may have also forgotten that Jonah Hill was in the original as well, but gets a different role here, as the man charged with bringing Aldous from London to LA with only three days to do it. This should give a road movie feel with added jeopardy, but mainly thanks to Aldous’ relaxed attitude, at no point do you ever really feel that he’s not going to get to the Greek on time.
The real problem is that this rock star takes an awful long time to truly find his groove. While both Hill and Brand are affable enough, there’s maybe too many sequences in the first half of the movie that are of the uncomfortable social situation kind, where you’re expected to laugh through your empathy with the characters predicament, rather than actual jokes. There are a sprinkling of Aldous’ rock star videos and songs, all of which are great, and a succession of celebrity cameos, most of which are not. There’s also maybe a little too much dwelling on the serious side of Aldous’ troubled life. But what really gets this movie into gear is a diversion to Vegas to see Aldous’ dad (the always reliable Colm Meaney).
This also brings the other central character, Sean Combs’ slightly deranged record exec Sergio, into the mix properly, and he’s a revelation. (Before you say it, no, we don’t need another spin off, he’s fine with what he’s done here.) From this point on the movie is laugh out loud hilarious, only occasionally flirting with the serious again, but the Vegas sequence and a trip to Aaron’s apartment are both real highlights. Thankfully the script doesn’t feel the need to hand out too many happy endings, but the real happiness would have been seeing a movie that was the consistent quality of the last third.
Why see it at the cinema: The early uncomfortable laughs will be made that much less painful with a large crowd in attendance, a few of whom will hopefully laugh. Then you can share that experience when the big laughs kick in later.
The Score: 6/10