Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008): ***½
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
The premise: Peter, TV show music composer (Jason Segel), gets
dumped by his long-time girlfriend Sarah Marshall, TV star (Kristen
Bell). Desperate to get over her (and after a string of disastrous
one-night stands) Peter flies off on a whim to Turtle Beach resort
in Hawaii, only to find out that Sarah is vacationing there as well...
with her new boyfriend Aldous Snow, rock star (Russel Brand). But
perhaps gorgeous hotel clerk Rachel (Mila Kunis) can help Peter
get over Sarah at last...
This movie is a Judd Apatow production, so it's by the same team
that made Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared, Anchorman,
40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad,
etc. Or as one reviewer called them, "romantic comedies for
It's a very funny movie if you liked the other productions on the
list above. If you didn't like them then, well, I'm sorry. You might
not like Forgetting Sarah Marsall either.
This is a typical Apatow comedy, but the one thing that surprised
me most was the fact that the characters are very intelligently
written. They're not just types, even the rock star. They're all
very layered, complex people with varying amounts of baggage and
problems and good points. And the way their relationships are written
is very mature (if not the relationships themselves). There really
are no heroes or villains in this film. The problems are kinda everybody's
fault. Sure, Sarah cheated on Peter and then dumped him, but Peter
was boring, inattentive, unadventurous, and slovenly. Sarah tried
for a long time to be happy in the relationship, and she tried just
about everything... except for talking it through with Peter. And
peter was too wrapped up to notice that she wasn't happy. She was
too unhappy with their relationship to notice that Peter was a pretty
good guy, and he was too oblivious with their relationship to notice
that she was unhappy.
Interestingly, as the movie goes on both characters have flashbacks
to their relationship. In the flashbacks, Peter begins to (now)
notice little things that indicate that his relationship with Sarah
wasn't as good as he thought it was. And in Sarah's flashbacks she
sees things that make her think that maybe she didn't appreciate
her relationship with Peter as much as she should have (especially
when things start to go downhill with Aldous).
Rachel has her own baggage that she's trying rather desperately
to escape. The only character who is really honest to himself about
his feelings is Aldous Snow, but he's horribly narcissistic (he's
honest about it, though).
The movie is crammed with hilarious lines and hilarious supporting
characters, including Judd Apatow regular Paul Rudd as a surfing
instructor and Jonah Hill as a maître-d' who likes Aldous
Snow maybe a little bit too much. Also, a supporting actor credit
should have gone to Jason Segel's penis, because it's in the movie
a surprising amount of times. It's also really the only nudity in
the film unless you count a photo of Mila Kunis flashing the camera
(we never see the event, just the resulting Polaroid). There's also
a wonderfully funny sub-plot involving a puppet musical about Dracula.
Judd Apatow's comedies, apart from being good funny ha-ha times,
mostly have an undercurrent of sweetness and intelligence, and this
is no exception. It's this intelligence in the script (by Jason
Segel himself) that makes Forgetting Sarah Marshall a truly good
movie, and not just another wacky raunchy comedy.
And, as a bonus, Mila Kunis is aboslutely, jaw-droppingly
beautiful in this movie. She just glows the whole time she's on
screen. That didn't hurt the proceedings none, I tell you what.