Saturday, April 19, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall Review

We are getting to a point with comedies where the idea that whatever Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad) produces is supposedly comedic gold. Unfortunately, the last two Apatow produced movies (Walk Hard and Drillbit Taylor) did not exactly live up to his high pedigree. Fortunately, Forgetting Sarah Marshall corrects that pattern and puts things back on the right path.

Written by star Jason Segel (of TV's How I Met Your Mother, possibly the best sitcom on TV today) and directed by first time director Nicholas Stoller, "Sarah Marshall" is an incredibly hilarious look at people's motivations within relationships that really takes the opportunity to give all the characters a chance to explain themselves.

By now I am sure most people have heard of the basic premise of the story. Peter Bretter (Segel), a composer who does music for his girlfriend Sarah Marshall's (Kristen Bell) TV show "Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime" gets dumped (while naked). In an attempt to get away from it all, he goes to a resort in Hawaii that Sarah once mentioned to him. Of course, as luck would have it, she is there with her new rockstar boyfriend Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). And, because no comedy would be complete without a new love interest, Peter develops a crush on the front desk girl Rachel (Mila Kunis).

What really makes this movie great is the way that it doesn't demonize anyone. Every character, whether it be Sarah or Peter or Rachel, all have issues within their lives that need to be dealt with. In many romantic comedies, the person who does the dumping is not really given a second glance and the blame is often squarely put on them. Unlike those, without giving anything away, you find that the real reason for the split is much more complicated than a woman who just wants to move up in the world. Looking at the characters as people with flaws and imperfections certainly helps to make the movie relatable in ways it might otherwise not have been.

A small issue with the movie is that it isn't as funny as Knocked Up or Superbad. This shouldn't be construed as a complaint though, as the laughs are consistent and don't really cease for the duration. The problem is that while I found myself laughing out loud, they never reached the complete hilarity of those other movies. Only once did I find myself laughing uncontrollably, which happened a few times in those other films. Yet, in comparison to the majority of the movies that pass for comedies today, this is infinitely better. I do feel somewhat bad for Jason Segel though, as he shows his penis numerous times yet it never really comes off as that funny, except for at the very end. Funny how the only time naked dudes are really ever used is for humorous effect. Naked women are usually shown so that people can see naked women. (I don't buy the whole "It makes sense for the scene" crap.)

On its own merits, without comparison to other movies within the genre, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is very funny and provides an experience that not only delivers minute-for-minute hilarity, but also crafts an engaging story. One more final complaint is that the end somewhat begins to head down the track of predictability, somewhat lessening the effect of the rest of the movie, but I wouldn't find it to be too much or a complaint, nor something that ruins the experience in the slightest.

As a final note, I have to mention that while Mila Kunis has always been hot, in this movie she's pretty much off the charts. Not to take away from the hotness of Kristen Bell, of course. I don't know whether it's movie magic or what the situation is with her in this movie, but I think we can all agree that Macauley Culkin is a lucky man. Yeah, I don't know how that happened, either.


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