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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Get Him to the Greek

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

Like his 2008 debut, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," writer-director Nicholas Stoller's new comedy "Get Him to the Greek" (Universal)—the raucous, frequently coarse tale of an unlikely friendship -- features a few touching moments and some positive underlying values. But, as in the earlier outing, these elements are ultimately eclipsed, in this case by a combination of obscenity-laden dialogue and debauched, sometimes perverse behavior.

Returning from the former film is the character of hedonistic British rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), whose attempts to lead a clean and sober life are scuttled, as we witness in the opening scenes, by a breakup with girlfriend Jackie Q (Rose Byrne)—a pop star in her own right—and by a disastrously unsuccessful record that leaves his career in freefall.

In a bid to revive Aldous' popularity, and improve the flagging fortunes of his own company, timid young music executive Aaron Green (Jonah Hill) strikes on the idea of a comeback concert at Los Angeles' Greek Theater, the site, 10 years previously, of Aldous' most legendary performance.

Aaron manages to sell his hard-bitten boss, Sergio (Sean Combs), on the concept, but finds himself tasked with escorting the wily, wayward rocker—whom Sergio describes as "the worst person on earth"—from London to the Left Coast, and depositing him safely at the Greek in time for the planned performance. To make matters worse, on the eve of his departure, Aaron has a potentially relationship-shredding quarrel with his live-in lover, Daphne (Elisabeth Moss, of "Mad Men" fame).

As Aldous drags Aaron through the depths of his fear-and-loathing lifestyle, and as Aaron encourages Aldous to climb his way back toward sobriety, the ill-matched pair bond.

Stoller's script manages to wring poignancy from scenes where Aaron insists on treating Aldous as a person rather than a marketable commodity and from the musician's loving but fraught relationship with his young son, whom he identifies as his only source of happiness. Along with the growing rapport at the heart of the story, Aaron and Daphne's relationship moves, however indirectly, toward renewed commitment and deepened exclusivity, though there's no hint of marriage.

But along the way to a moderately acceptable wrap-up, this globe-trotting exercise in excess makes detours portraying casual and group sex, a visit to a strip club, and extensive indulgence in drugs and drunkenness. As is typical for a Judd Apatow production, moreover, there's hardly a punch line that's not peppered by the F-word or some other vulgarity.

The film contains brief graphic nonmarital sexual activity, scenes of aberrant sexuality, cohabitation, drug use, some gruesome images, upper female and rear nudity, much sexual humor, a couple of uses of profanity and pervasive rough and crude language. The Catholic News Service classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
John Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.


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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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