Get Me to the Mecca

Prepare yourself for nearly two hours of this, in montage form.

The Dinner: French Dip and Fries at Mecca Cafe with a couple pints of Stella Artois.

The Movie: Get Him to the Greek at the Uptown.

The Screenplate: At first, Get Him to the Greek seems like your ordinary Rock n' Roll comedy experience. Jonah Hill plays Aaron Green, a quiet, naive talent scout who holds sacrosanct the glitz and glamour of rock and roll until he spends a week with his idol, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand returning as his character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall). The audience soon learns that "THIS IS INSANE!!!" via Hill spitting that line ad infinitum in Brand's face throughout the film. At the end, Aaron saves the day and gets his idol to the big comeback show and fixes his mildly problematic relationship and blah blah blah...

However, Get Him to the Greek carries a very distinctive difference from most Apatow productions in its structure. That is, it doesn't really seem to have one.

Ticking clocks and minor antagonists are peppered throughout the film, but only seem to be there for cosmetic purposes. If you want to play a fun drinking game, have a shot every time Get Him to the Greek sets up a dramatic conflict with a solid time limit -- only to reach that time limit and have Russell Brand do something wacky that renders the entire conflict pointless to begin with. You might get horrendously sick, but at least you'll be on the same page as the rest of the film.

I remember being especially perturbed by a big screen-dominating graphic showing that there were 24 HOURS TO SOUND CHECK in Los Angeles while both protagonists were in Las Vegas. This was a pretty exciting concept, what with the entire movie being hedged on getting Aldous to the concert and all.

Instead, the movie needed to have an extended drug trip scene in Las Vegas, so the sound check apparently wasn't that important. There was literally no repercussion for missing the sound check besides getting chased out of a hotel by Puff Daddy. This wouldn't be so offensive if it wasn't par for the course when it came to every single problem Aaron and Aldous faced.

Both of the characters miss countless flights, but it's okay, because they just take later ones. Aldous tries to kill himself by throwing himself off a building, but just changes his mind as soon as Aaron shows up. Aaron gets raped by a drug-addled Aldous groupie, but it's okay because he's a dude and dudes can't get raped. Aaron's girlfriend won't continue the relationship unless she can have a three-way with Aldous, but it's okay because she gets grossed out in the middle so the relationship's fine again.

By the end of the movie, one might start to think they're just watching Tropic Thunder 2, only with the music industry instead of Hollywood and Puff Daddy filling Tom Cruise's place as the swarthy, foul-mouthed mogul. Both of these films expose alot of the soul-sucking, terrible qualities of their respective businesses -- but they're more or less created (and more importantly, sold) by many of the very people who have been making tremendous amounts of money off of these qualities for years. It's something slightly more caustic than your average satire, but it's also totally self-imposed. There's just something behind the entire idea of Get Him to the Greek's brand of self-flagellation that's just... creepy.

Now that I've called Get Him to the Greek contrived, aimless and maybe even sinister -- I have to say I enjoyed it. I'm not going to hype up its escapism factor because lord knows there are about a dozen movies out right now that are more visually stunning, in 3D and don't at any point involve picturing Lars Ulrich naked. It's something else. It's the same attention to building a disjointed, narcissistic atmosphere that keeps me coming back to Mecca Cafe.

Every frame of The Greek is saturated in the world of Aldous Snow. It's like someone decided to do a character piece on a totally one-dimensional character (perhaps a cariacture piece?). The break-neck pace of Greek's editing, countless montages and careless attitude towards narrative convention all add up to a filmgoing experience that positively bathes the viewer in a sleazy, amoral wonderland where there is the pretense of danger, but nothing more.

The Mecca serves as a haven against the angry upper-middle class UFC crowd across the street at The Spectator and the slightly-higher-middle class cocktailers floating in and out of Pesos and Chopstix. You can call it a dive bar, but it's tough to assign that term to a business that practically shares a storefront with a squeaky clean Blockbuster.

I personally consider the Mecca's French Dip sandwich to be the best in Seattle, if only for its honesty. The bread is really stale, so you have to dip it in hot au jus. I don't want anything more complicated than that in a French Dip. The fries look like roided out versions of the ones you can get at Dick's just a little further down the block, as if a defiant starchy gesture. The service is stern, but fair.

In a nation that takes such impassioned umbrage against issues like smoking indoors, driving while talking on the phone or the destructive force of vuvuzelas, it's refreshing to step into a world full of nihilistic self-absorption that actually entertains every once in awhile.

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