Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Seat: Rear left
Food: Indiana Jones combo from concession ($15)
Preshow ads: Coke Zero, Toyota, Telus
Trailers: What Happens in Vegas, Get Smart, The Incredible Hulk, Wanted
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.
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