Week 19: Forgetting Sarah Marshall


Forgetting Sarah Marshall
MPAA#: 44109
Showtime: 9:20
Shotgun: Mare
Seat: Rear left
Weather: cool
Food: Indiana Jones combo from concession ($15)
Expectations: high
Met?: yes
Preshow ads: Coke Zero, Toyota, Telus
Trailers: What Happens in Vegas, Get Smart, The Incredible Hulk, Wanted

Review:

After years of proving himself to be one of the funniest best kept secrets on television between Judd Apatow’s “Freaks and Geeks” and CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother,” Jason Segel has turned to screenwriting. With a little help from his friends, the result is a charming and distinctive comedy called Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Of course, it helps when you have friends like Paul Rudd and Russell Brand.

Segel does the heavy lifting by starring as Peter, a nice but not very ambitious guy who lives in the shadow of his TV star girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). When she suddenly dumps him, he goes through a string of one-night stands and generally bad calls until he decides that he needs to get out of his apartment and get a change of scene. Since he and Sarah had often spoken of a trip to Hawaii, he shows up at a resort, only to find that she is also there with her new partner, an oblivious (and in his way, equally nice) British rock star called Aldous Snow (Brand).

Putting aside the necessary coincidence that sets up the film, Forgetting Sarah Marshall offers a great combination of sophomoric comedy and relationship insights, as if we are getting a glimpse into the lives of the American Pie cast after a decade. Underneath all of the very funny shots at the entertainment industry and the whimsical, Local Hero moments in Hawaii, Segel examines the path that any one of us might take after a breakup.

Of course, a major part of that path is the rebound, in this case a hotel concierge named Rachel (Mila Kunis). She too has been burned by relationships and, like Peter, has let life pass her by for a while. Sarah Marshall notices their chemistry and starts to wonder if she has made a big mistake, which leads to more pitfalls.

All of the major characters in this film are complex and recognizable. As the film progresses we come to see that even Sarah and Aldous are sympathetic in their own way, and Peter is not exactly perfect. I found myself identifying with all of these people, having been in their positions at one time or another.

The only parts of this movie that I didn’t care for much are the set piece at the end, a way-off-Broadway production created by Peter that falls flat in much the same way as the ending of Jersey Girl; and Superbad’s Jonah Hill as a waiter who is apparently in love with Aldous. Still, it’s a minor setback in a film that takes a lot of other conventions and makes them feel fresh again.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a new high water mark for the tide of comedy being generated by Judd Apatow and his friends. Congratulations to Segel and his castmates, all of whom turn in the kind of brave and genuine performances that were required to make this movie as special as it is.

Recommended?: yes
Crowd reaction at end of movie: none
Credit cookie?: none
For further consideration: will Segel’s full frontal nudity force Mike Myers to take his own exhibitionism to the next level?
Opening next week: Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian; Reprise; How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer
Hoping for: How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer

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About Scott M

www.potzrebie.com
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3 Responses to Week 19: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

  1. Sandra says:

    Hey Scott! Great reviews! I really liked this movie too, and think it’s almost fair to say that I actually loved it. Definitely re-watch material anyway. I kind of liked the Dracula set piece too, although, maybe there was a little bit too much of it. It’s funny though, because there actually is a Dracula musical, although not one starring puppets.

  2. Scott says:

    More’s the pity, Sandra.

  3. Peter Urkowitz says:

    Hi Scott! It’s your old uncle Urk from APA Centauri in days of yore. I’ve really enjoyed your reviews, but I don’t get to the movies much myself. This is the first one I’ve seen this year. I went to see Iron Man, but it was sold out, so I saw FSM instead. It was in one of those tiny theatres that they put movies in after a few weeks, so even though not many people show up, it still feels crowded.

    I liked the movie pretty well, laughed a lot. Even a few years out from my divorce, it felt like all the characters were speaking to me: “Get over it, Peter! Pull yourself together, Peter!” So that was sort of weird and fun. I found myself bothered by some of the typical movie unreality, like how impossibly gorgeous Mila Kunis doesn’t already have 20 guys chasing her or much other social life, so she’s available for some guy to just step up to the hotel desk and sweep her off her feet.

    Also, the Hawaiian sunlight seemed weirdly dim and shady in a lot of outdoor shots, like they used a bluescreen in a studio. But why would they do that if they were already shooting on location? Or like they were filming under a tent. I dunno why this tiny detail bugged me so much, but it sort of pulled me out of the movie and made me think about the process of filming it instead.

    I still liked the movie, it just seemed like some of the seams were showing, I guess.

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