I took my 16 year old out for his birthday (his actual birthday was a while ago, but with our schedules it was tough to schedule a full night alone with him before now). After dinner and some shopping, we discussed seeing a movie. He wanted to see “Get Him to the Greek.” I had read some pretty poor reviews, but had no problem seeing it. The reviews indicated the movie tried to do too much. They felt it aspired to be a comedy in the “Hangover” style but also tried to squeeze in weightier issues like a substance abuse problem and parent issues.
I had recently read another article interviewing Russell Brand who reprises his role from “Forgetting Sara Marshall” as a rock star for the plot of this movie (I still don’t know why I am receiving Rolling Stone magazine). The article discusses Brand’s real-life struggles with substance dependence (including heroin) and with sex addiction and bulimia. I liked the article, and I relate to Brand’s approach to life now. He talks about keeping his addictive personality at bay by attending 12 step meetings, working out, keeping busy, meditating, and writing (two autobiographies) as well as currently filming a documentary on happiness. I related to both the article and the film in the personality portrayed, and perhaps that led me to liking the film more.
I thought the film did a good job of portraying the life of an addict as well as a film can and remain a comedy. There are times the film (and an addict’s life) is all fun and laughs. But at some point the movie indicates that drugs are a serious issue for the main character. This is evidenced by Aldous Snow (Brand’s character) explaining to Aaron Green (Jonah Hill’s character) the importance of drugs. The explanation, which of course I cannot remember exactly and research failed to produce, went something like this:
Your life must be full of a laundry list of worries and things to consider. Where is your life going? Is this person the one to be with? So on and so forth. But my life has one concern. Do you know what the one word is? Drugs. My life is simple.
Although perhaps a slight exaggeration of the drug dependent person’s life, it does often seem that way. Drugs become the most important thing, often the only thing that really matters. Of course there are other concerns, but they are secondary to the drug and getting high. This is often felt by those around the active addict, even if the addict can’t recognize it themselves.
Another aspect of the film I thought was accurate was the self-centered nature of the substance user. Aldous Snow manipulates Aaron to get what he wants. This is more than evident in the film, and although it can be chocked up to his being a spoiled rock star and being used to being spoiled, it is often also true of those with substance issues.
During the course of the film Aldous also begins to confront some of the issues that underlie his addiction. He addresses issues with his parents, broken dreams, and rationalizations for his behavior of a too intelligent man. The issue that seems core to many with addictions is a tremendous loneliness that he can’t seem to satiate. The idea of self-medication is also mentioned, as Aldous hasn’t experienced real emotion in some time. There are even some of drawbacks of addiction recovery in the film, such as when a person is too honest about previous wrongs to free their own guilt, without consideration of the injured party.
Overall I feel the film was a good one. It has some genuinely funny moments, some funny dialogue, and it addresses to a small extent what it is like when someone is in an addiction. It seemed obvious to me with my knowledge of addiction and recovery that the film makers had some experience with the topic. In the interview Brand admits the director and writer took stories from his life. It seems to me there is more than that. Perhaps Brand’s personal experience propels the story onto the screen making it more true to addiction. Or perhaps other than just stories Brand talked with them about his personal feelings and thoughts in regard to addiction and addiction recovery. Whatever accounts for the true aspects of addiction in the film, they are there and in my opinion it adds to the film’s depth rather than detracting from its attempts at humor. After all, isn’t life made up of comedy and tragedy?