Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Film review by: Witney Seibold

            Several times throughout “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” a romantic comedy about the emotional wasteland we must traverse following a particularly hurtful breakup, the line “cut the bullshit” is uttered. O the sweet mercy of such a line. Producer Judd Apatow and his ever-growing cadre of in-the-know collaborators have finally rescued the romantic comedy from the pabulum doldrums of sitcom misunderstandings, hackneyed executions, and stupidity in general. “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” like “Superbad,” “Knocked Up,” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” before it, crackles with intelligence and emotional honesty. It’s not quite as good as those other films (it has some really broad moments), but is still infused with a genuine wit and a refreshingly true take of its sitcom-ish setup. In short, it cuts the bullshit.

 

            Peter (Jason Segel, best known as the stoner from “Freaks and Geeks”) is the composer for a new hit cop show, and is dating the show’s star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). One afternoon, rather unexpectedly and while he is vulnerably nude, Sarah callously dumps Peter. She has, you see, started seeing a vapid British rock minx named Aldous Snow (upcoming British comedian Russell Brand) on the side. Peter spends the following few weeks alternately sobbing, throwing tantrums, getting drunk, and having meaningless one-night stands. Y’know, the usual stuff. In a last-ditch effort to forget/pay homage to his dead relationship, he takes a trip to Hawaii.

 

            Of course, Sarah is there at the same hotel with her new boyfriend. Comic misunderstandings and wacky awkward confrontations ensue, but Peter begins to find some much-needed connections with the hotel staff, particularly the spunky receptionist Rachel (Mila Kunis) who may be a good friend, but may eventually be more.

 

            The film is largely brisk and clean and sharp. Segel (who wrote the screenplay) is not afraid to make Peter sad, uncool, and even a little pathetic. He’s constantly crying and whining about his ex, but Segel manages to make him sympathetic. Peter is not an object of mockery. He even has a great epiphany late in the film, when he realizes that he may not be such a catch after all. Bell (in addition to looking really good in a bikini) is able to transform an otherwise archetypal sitcom villainess into a well-rounded human being. And Kunis plays her free-spirit character pragmatically rather than supernaturally.

 

            A caveat: “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” runs 115 minutes, and is stretched to that length by a lot of unnecessary “wacky” moments involving the supporting cast. Late in the film the snotty British rocker character starts saying things of meaning, but for the first half, he preens and undulates like a cartoon. It’s a bit unseemly. There is a subplot with a virginal couple of newlyweds which doesn’t really add much to the film, and Jonah Hill (from “Superbad”) has a recurring role as a drooling rock fanboy. Even reliable standby Paul Rudd makes an appearance as a surfing instructor who is so laidback, that he seems to forget where he is from time to time. Much of this, while often funny, could have been cut for economy’s sake.

 

            It’s glorious to see a romantic comedy that is finally romantic and funny, and not straining and sweating under the weight of its own high concept and bankable comedian leading-man. Finally people in Hollywood are working to cut through the bullshit.

 

Poor Jason Segel. Torn between this...

Poor Jason Segel. Torn between this...

 

...and this.

...and this.

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Published in: on May 19, 2008 at 7:41 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. good, there both SO hot, but if i could only fuck one of them, it would have to be mila kunis!!


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