Known in his home country for his comedy as much as he is for his antics, Russell Brand is the honest-to-god rock star trifecta -- an ex-heroine junky/sex addict/alcoholic. But unlike most in his position, rather than turning to teary talk-show revelations and apologies, he incorporated his infamous follies into his act, doing stand-up about what it is like to be a walking cliché. A man well-known for his conquests and dating habits, he's been thrice awarded The Sun's annual Shagger of the Year award, which had to be renamed the Russell Brand Shagger of the Year award. In the UK he is regarded in the same way Dane Cook is regarded in the United States -- loved by his fans and considered a one-joke wonder by everyone else.
But over here in the States we are a bit more forgiving of bad behavior coupled with self-deprecation. In fact, we seem to allow it as long as the performer fully acknowledges it. Especially if they look and act a bit like Jack Sparrow.
Brand stands upon the precipice of making a big splash in the United States, with the first of six projects (in the can or announced) set to see release over the next two years or in theaters now. In his first American lead role, he reprises his role as Aldous Snow, the lovable letch from the film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a not-off-the-mark parody of Brand's real-life troubles. Brand plays a womanizing, drug-addled, alcoholic rock star; the only difference between his real-life and on-screen personas appears to be the medium he is involved with (music instead of comedy) and how well-known he is in the States. Everything else comes across as if he's been doing 10 years of method acting to prepare for the role.
For Brand's part, he is really, really good at it and funny as a rubber crutch. Get Him to the Greek is an incredibly funny film that rides entirely on his charisma. If he weren't so likable, I don't this would have worked at all. But he possesses an affable charm that makes him perfect for this role, and perfect for that of Arthur, the classic (and similar) Dudley Moore character we'll soon see him play.
But will American audiences buy it? Will they be able to appreciate the antics the British Isles have already tired of? He's developing something of a following here, but how long can audiences accept something that might not actually be that much of an act? Is he the next big thing? Maybe, for a limited time. If Brand can move out of his comfort zone and show some range, he might be able to parlay this into a fantastic career as a comic character actor. But if this is all he's got in his bag of tricks, we might easily tire of him, and he could quickly fall into the Pauly Shore/Jamie Kennedy roller-coaster career of comedy.