Aldous Snow, played by Russell Brand, was the highlight of the overlong Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and while putting Aldous front and centre in his own film is a fine idea, again the shears might have been wielded with rather more enthusiasm. At least the central story, essentially a kind of transatlantic buddy-road movie, has considerably more momentum on this occasion.
The film is strongly reminiscent of Judd Apatow's Funny People, with its shifts away from comic territory - Snow reappraises his life in convincing, even moving, fashion - as well as for a plot which brings together a past-his-prime star with an adoring acolyte/assistant. We're treated to samples of Aldous's wildest self-indulgences, just before his career jumps off a cliff, a brilliant distillation of all that's earnest and misguided about starry misappropriations of others' misfortunes.
Russell Brand again cannily exploits the overlap between his real-life reputation and Aldous's persona, adding layers to his original creation; Aldous might be self-obsessed and obnoxious but he's also authentic and truthful, and Brand manages to capture his contradictions and compulsions without losing our sympathy. He's also a very fine comic, and it'll be interesting to see what he can do with material that relies less obviously on his own backstory.