Dave's Rating:

3.0

Empty laughs are still laughs.

Who's In It: Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Sean Combs, Rose Byrne

The Basics: Russell Brand is the rock star from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, an obnoxious, self-obsessed, drug-saturated wild man who can't be tamed. Enter Jonah Hill, a low-level record company employee assigned to chaperone Brand from London to Los Angeles for a performance at the Greek Theater. In other words, it's kind of about nothing except two guys going nuts in clubs, hotel rooms and airplanes.

What's The Deal: Like Sex and the City 2, this movie is at war with itself. It wants to be as outrageous and lowbrow and dirty and limits-pushing as all the other guys-gone-wild movies that have come before it in recent years. And it also wants to be about friendship and loneliness and the limits of partying and the yearning for a cocoon of safety. So it spends 85 of its 100 minutes on a berserk blitzkrieg of shrieking and puke and Russell Brand-brand lunatic chemical-bro behavior. Then it grinds to a halt so they can bond over their mutual sadness, need for love and disgust with all that excess. I choose to (sort of) forgive it for that boring lapse into traditional empathy-begging because the rest of it (unlike Sex and the City 2) is so funny.

Who Steals It: Sean P. Diddy Combs goes on a crazy tear through this entire thing, taking every scene he's in and shaking it until you can't breathe from laughing as he barks about how he "...own[s] 21 Koo Koo Roos. Y'all don't own one Koo Koo Roo," appears as a drug hallucination in which he Pac-Mans tiny versions of his own head, insults Pharrell's fashion choices, shouts meaninglessly about GoGurt and--in crazily f-bomb-rich R-rated language--discusses the proper way to manipulate a person's mind. He'll manipulate yours into thinking he's the star of this movie and not just a supporting player.

Another Way That It's Like Sex and the City 2, aka, What Else Is Wrong With It: They have spouse issues like Carrie, child issues like Charlotte, job anxiety like Miranda and sexual insecurity like Samantha, but none of their added burdens seem all that real. Meanwhile the characters sample liberation like it's a party drug to indulge in only as a stop-gap until real domestic bliss saves them. In Judd Apatow-written-and-directed movies (he just produced this one) there's a sense that he has an ongoing story he's trying to tell about men who don't fit comfortably into their assigned roles as men, and it's almost like he's baring male secrets. This one feels like its squeezing itself into that mold without thinking about itself deeply enough. No secrets here, just really funny shtick.

Two Best Cameos: Nobel Prize-winning Princeton economics professor Paul Krugman is one of many media people who play themselves, but he's the most surprising and gets in a great reaction shot. On the other end of the spectrum, character actor Carla Gallo shows up as a dumb young thing with perfect comic timing named Destiny. You remember her best as the girl having her period in Superbad.

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