Forgetting Sarah Marshall
You’d think that in the 3 years since Judd Apatow hit it big with his heartwarmingly raunchy The 40 Year Old Virgin, he’d start to lose some steam. But with the Apatow produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall, he’s proved that he’s got more than enough material to keep going.
Composer Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) gets dumped by his TV star girlfriend of five years, the titular Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). In an effort to clear his head and escape the anguish of the break up, and at the suggestion of his well-meaning step-brother Brian (Bill Hader), he takes a week long vacation to a Hawaiian resort. Unfortunately for him, Sarah is vacationing at the same resort with her new fling, pop sensation Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Luckily for Peter, he’s got sexy hotel clerk Rachel Jensen (Mila Kunis) to take his mind of everything.
Segel’s (Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up) script is one of damn near perfection. It approaches the level of comedic balance and precision that one rarely sees these days. You are busting a gut, laughing your ass off, but then he comes in with a really poignant scene to center it, then explodes it all over again. All within minutes.
The best scene to exemplify this, is the now infamous Jason Segel nude scene, where you get to see Jason’s Segel. And some credit must go to director Nicholas Stoller (making his feature debut) for this. But normal scene, nothing particular hilarious. Peter gets dumped by Sarah, she’s going through the “I love you, but…” speech. Peter just happens to have just stepped out of the shower, and he’s standing there, naked. It’s not a typically funny scene, but the fact that he’s naked honestly adds a bizarre level to it. It is as I’ve always described Apatow’s films and shows- earnest.
And with the literal balls to stand there, Jason Segel immediately launches himself to comedic lead status. Of course he was in tune with the material he wrote, but that gave him an intuitive look into the character. And he played the jilted lover trying to move on with sheer perfection.
One thing I’ve always admired about Apatow and crew is that they’ve always been able to write fascinating and hilarious roles for women, outside of the tired ditzy, damsel cliche. Both Kunis (That 70’s Show, Get Over It) and Bell (Veronica Mars, Heroes) turn in two of the finest female comedic performances of this era. They fall in line with the working relationship Segal, Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd have developed over the course of their past several films, and steal scenes away from them.
The film would be nothing without that supporting cast, including Hill (Superbad, Strange Wilderness), Rudd (Anchorman, Knocked Up), British comic Aldous Snow, and SNL star Hader. Their parts always move the story along, but never drag it down.
It’s one of the funniest movies in a long time, one that holds up against some of the great classic comedies, and Richard Roeper was right to rank this in his top 50 comedies of all time.
Here’s a trailer for you.
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