Review: Forgetting Sarah Marshall (no spoilers)

April 18, 2008 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

One word: HILARIOUS. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. First-time director Nicholas Stoller directs a great comedy starring first-time leading man (and screenwriter) Jason Segel as Peter, a music composer for a TV show, starring his girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). The premise is simple: Sarah breaks up with Peter, and at the suggestion of his step-brother Brian (Bill Hader), Peter goes to Hawaii to get his mind off things. Surprise, surprise, Sarah is staying at the same hotel with her new boyfriend, musician Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). And the hilarity ensues.

What follows is typical of a Judd Apatow-produced movie: lonely, yet lovable schmuck falls in love with a girl. However, it is Segel’s writing that keeps the movie from being anything but dull. Everyone in the movie is likeable, and there really isn’t a villain. The guys at the Filmspotting podcast (check it out here) mentioned that the leading lady in the movie, Rachel (Mila Kunis), is different from the leading ladies from 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up in that she is basically one of the guys, but in hot girl form. I can see what they’re saying here, she holds her own in her scenes with Segel, and she feels right at home interacting with everyone. It feels different when watching Katherine Heigl in Knocked Up, where she’s the successful career woman hanging around Seth Rogen’s slacker character, Ben. Not that Peter isn’t a slacker in Sarah Marshall (the opening montage clearly shows this), but Rachel feels truly part of the world, along with Peter and Sarah and Aldous.

The jokes here are, again, pretty much what you’d expect from an Apatow production. Funny sex jokes, a little nudity, occasional fart joke, making fun of someone’s loneliness, etc. Apatow regulars Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd also appear, and their respective scenes are also pretty funny. I’m not a huge Paul Rudd fan, I think he’s funny sometimes. But here, he’s funny most of the time, a marked improvement. I guess it’s Rudd’s line delivery that doesn’t seem to mesh too well with everything else, but here, he’s fine and gives one of the biggest laughs (in my opinion) of the film. Russell Brand also deserves mention for being an absolute riot. Normally, the new boyfriend of the ex-girlfriend should be the rival to our hero, but Aldous is great and the audience really warms up to him. He’s a bit of a ditz and an airhead, but he’s a nice guy and he isn’t rude to anyone at all; a bit odd since he is supposed to be some famous rock star. Definitely not a stereotype.

Also worth mentioning is the show that Sarah Marshall stars in. Titled Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime, it’s basically a rip-off of CSI (and all the spinoffs) and NCIS. William Baldwin plays himself playing a parody of David Caruso from CSI: Miami and those short segments are great. Also, stay a bit after the end credits start to catch another show Sarah Marshall is working on. And Jack MacBrayer from 30 Rock appears as a newlywed who’s having some…trouble with his new wife. His scenes seem to come completely out of nowhere, but they had me laughing my head off.

There’s definitely going to be some comparison to Knocked Up, 40-Year-Old Virgin, Superbad, and other movies produced and/or directed by Judd Apatow. Virgin really hit the right note in terms of attaching some weight to a character and his plight, and Knocked Up offered a surprisingly ‘conservative’ viewpoint of unwanted pregnancy and treated it with humor and maturity. Sarah Marshall, however, is still just a slightly more adult version of Superbad, a pretty tame story with some great characters. Also, the movie isn’t too long either, unlike Knocked Up. The movie moves along at a nice pace and definitely gives the actors time to explore their characters and their situations. I had a better time watching this than I did Knocked Up. For those that loved that movie, plus Superbad and 40-Year-Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall should be a guaranteed a good time.

8.5/10

On a side note, Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis are smokin’ hot in this movie. I saw Bell’s pictorial spread in Complex magazine, and she looked so fine. When I first saw her in a full shot wearing her bikini, I nearly dropped my jaw. And I also won’t be able to watch Family Guy the same again, because everytime I hear the voice of Meg Griffin, I’ll think of Mila Kunis. She is drop-dead gorgeous in this movie.  Can’t wait to see her as Mona Sax in the Max Payne movie.

(images from Yahoo!)

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