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Overall Rating

Awesome: 33.93%
Worth A Look44.64%
Average: 5.36%
Pretty Bad: 1.79%
Total Crap: 14.29%

5 reviews, 26 user ratings

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall
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by Erik Childress

"A Whole Bunch Of Laughs and Mila Kunis Is A Good Way To Do It"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2008 SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL: You know the old cliché about how attractive people flock together? I suppose that’s just another rung on the ladder of cliques. Jocks, brains, cheerleader debutantes – all in their little corners while the class clown made fun of them all. Judd Apatow knew this when he helped create Freaks and Geeks and he’s known exactly whom to keep within his circle of funny. It’s almost becoming a cliché for me to list Apatow’s resume to sell the point that he’s at the forefront of some of the best comedies today. The 40 Year-Old Virgin & Knocked Up were his directorial efforts. Writing duties went to Seth Rogen for Superbad. Some claim the magic ran out on Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, but that was only at the box office, not in quality. And I feel safe in blaming Drillbit Taylor on the original draft by John “Edmond Dantes” Hughes. With productions Step Brothers and Pineapple Express both looking like winners this summer, another of Apatow’s proteges, Jason Segel gets writing credit on Forgetting Sarah Marshall and I’m proud to report that the train continues on rolling.

The Sarah Marshall of the title looks a lot like Kristen Bell. So much so that she’s also a TV star in a popular Veronica Mars-ish show called Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime. She’s been dating the show’s composer, Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) for years, often seen on the red carpet holding her purse or wearing sweatpants on the couch in-between score sessions. One day Sarah comes home and announces she’s dumping him. Peter takes it pretty hard, fielding advice from good friend (and Sarah’s brother), Brian (Bill Hader) to move on with other girls, disasterous flings that usually end in unfulfillment or weeping. Eventually he decides to get on with his life and take a vacation in Hawaii. Upon check-in though he discovers that not only has Sarah hit upon the same idea, she’s brought along her new boyfriend, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), a ridiculous British pop singer whose entendre-filled lyrics would make Bon Scott choke on his vomit all over again.

More weeping shall follow, usually followed by drinking. Fortunately the hotel has a beautiful, friendly desk clerk named Rachel (Mila Kunis) who hooks Peter up with a vacant suite. Unfortunately its right next door to Sarah and Aldous. Rachel is sympathetic to Peter’s plight, which she picks up on immediately, and begins to get him out of his suite for dinner and beach parties while an obvious attraction develops. It’s a slow process with all manner of suggestion coming in via laptop from Brian and characters around the resort including stoned surf instructor, Chuck (Paul Rudd), an interfering waiter (Jonah Hill) trying to keep Aldous’ attention and a newlywed couple (Jack McBrayer & Maria Thayer) struggling through his religiosity that suggests sex is dirty.

Plotwise Forgetting Sarah Marshall seems destined to follow the path of all standard romantic comedies but not all is as it appears as the writing has a few tricks up its sleeves. Besides being funnier than most comedies, romantic or otherwise, the film succeeds at a level where the Vince Vaughn/Jennifer Aniston “anti-romantic comedy”, The Break-Up, failed so completely. Peter’s behavior certainly maintains an exaggeration that keeps it away from the harsh dramatics that your usual separation leaves in its wake, but Segel’s script doesn’t shy away from it either. While he’s certainly our hero for the moment, flashbacks reveal him not to be quite the catch either and when Sarah emotionally lays out her reasons later in the film, there’s a certain sympathy for her and a clear acknowledgment that these two are probably better off without each other.

Sarah’s antics in going about her break is certainly not as clean as it might seem, but there’s a certain satisfaction in not turning Aldous into a complete jackass. He’s aloof for certain and doesn’t morally grasp his role in this triangle but we maintain a lovable hatred for his vanity in great part to Brand’s performance. Known primarily in his native UK, Brand takes a little warming up to until you discover he’s just not another wannabe from the pond and could develop the kind of following that Simon Pegg is finally start to have here in the states. Kristen Bell is also quite good in the tricky role of the girl we’d all like to hate (and the influence of the campaign involving “I hate you” posters is a good head start), but she pivots carefully between heartbreaker and heartbroken and wisely plays it as someone who would rather move on than be a spiteful bitch.

Aside from the usual gold that comes with Apatow regulars, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill and Bill Hader – it’s Segel really making his mark here. When you go back and watch episodes of Undeclared (where he had a recurring role not unlike here) and Freaks & Geeks, there’s an acute tenderness to his work that you may have overlooked amongst the ensemble. Far greater than the slum writing he’s being given currently on How I Met Your Mother. His misplaced hip slickness in Knocked Up was just one of the details that made it last year’s funniest film. Segal takes it a step further in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, combining the best traits of his previous work and elevating it to the sort of unexpected leading man status that his pal, Seth Rogen, did. Taking the same cue is Mila Kunis, who was always given one note to play on That ‘70s Show and she usually pounded it pretty hard. But she is almost unrecognizable here, accentuating both her beauty and a personality that really shines a smile on our faces every time she appears.

This crew, this collection of unexpected comedy all-stars may eventually repeat themselves (Hell, their films are just new variations on old premises) but they seemingly are capable of twisting a joke just a few degrees to make it feel fresh and they’ve got 360 of them to cover. Those who thought they would never see a musical number blindside them more than their take on Hair at the end of The 40 Year-Old Virgin, you will be proven wrong when the climax of Sarah Marshall (the movie, not the character) changes a horror classic forever. Between that final performance, the numerous direct shots to Bell’s career choices, Segel’s unashamed and exposed manhood and at least 90 minutes of sustained laughter, what possible reason could you have to want to forget Sarah Marshall?

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originally posted: 04/04/08 01:52:24
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell funny but 2 long is that peter north the porn star 4 stars
1/10/11 fartvenugen How does one forget Forgetting Sarah Marshall? Garbage. 1 stars
2/24/10 Peter North this movie was hilarious....and I want to be inside Mila's Kunis..... 5 stars
2/18/10 Monday Morning Very unfunny, especially Jason Segel's dick, which was totally uncalled for. And small. 2 stars
6/16/09 art OUTRAGEOUS! 4 stars
4/11/09 John Aster Jason Segal plays his usual sweet nice guy and despite crude humor a really sweet movie 5 stars
2/27/09 MP Bartley Very funny in spots with great supporting performances across the board. 4 stars
1/12/09 mr.mike Goes on a bit too long , otherwise good. 4 stars
1/08/09 Shaun Wallner Hilarious Movie! 4 stars
10/11/08 Annie G Not too bad when you just need a decent comedy. Hawaii is gorgeous as usual! 3 stars
10/05/08 Fenstwhip Shiggins We'd be so much better never having learned of Sarah Marshall, so nothing of her to forget. 1 stars
10/02/08 Charles Tatum Laughs here and there, but no comedy classic 3 stars
9/18/08 The Velcro Warlock Ugh, an unrated version advertised just when I thought I'd be forgetting Forgetting Sarah M 1 stars
9/05/08 Little Pissed Sunshine Yes, a non-farcical movie needs likeable characters;this has none (nor succeeds as farce). 1 stars
8/22/08 Kristin Bellfree So right, Jenny and Ashley. Never wanna meet paul shortt or harpy who's pulling his strings 1 stars
7/17/08 Jenny Tullwartz A should've waited for DVD so can FF thru agony to see HOW bad a pisser ending! 1 stars
7/17/08 Ashley Corpening Sarah and Rachel are BOTH unlikeable, and Aldous is nothing but a caricature! 1 stars
7/14/08 Private Found this to be overrated. Cast was willing but execution and script was largely flat. 3 stars
7/05/08 Samantha Pruitt Superbad was better, but this is still pretty funny! 5 stars
6/02/08 George Barksdale Funny, had a good time. 4 stars
5/27/08 g awesome 5 stars
5/14/08 Simon Hilarious of course, but spotty seriousness, Apatow= scatterbrained; Kunis sure is gorgeous 4 stars
4/30/08 J Extremely funny. 5 stars
4/26/08 Teresa Goodwin This was absolutely hilarious, a must see! 5 stars
4/26/08 Dale it was very funny 5 stars
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  18-Apr-2008 (R)
  DVD: 30-Sep-2008


  DVD: 30-Sep-2008

Directed by
  Nick Stoller

Written by
  Jason Segel
  Judd Apatow

  Jason Segel
  Kristen Bell
  Mila Kunis
  Russell Brand
  Paul Rudd
  Jonah Hill
  Bill Hader
  Jack McBrayer

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