Just a Quickie: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

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There seems to be a new movie each week with his name atop it. Whether he’s presenting, producing or directing, Judd Apatow has changed Hollywood. He has revitalized the R-rated comedy, and has transformed his handpicked collective of actors into stars. With Forgetting Sarah Marshall, a comedy produced by Apatow, he adds another success to his growing fame.

 

Apatow’s first and possibly best, 40 Year Old Virgin, made Steve Carell into a star. Judd showed the world his trademark: raunchy balls-out comedy with a heart of gold that not only appeals to the male demographic, but draws in the opposite sex as well. Any movie that can have a box o’ porn and at the same time paint a touching portrayal of a 40 year old losing his virginity, is a keeper. From there, the hits kept on coming. He made Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl stars with Knocked Up, another comedic gem. Then, he produced a small comedy called Superbad (you may have heard of it), which transformed Michael Cera and Jonah Hill into box office gold like he did with the others (give credit where credit’s due: Seth Rogen co-wrote Superbad). He’s cooled since then, being apart of the creation of the Owen Wilson dud Drillbit Taylor and flop Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (which I maintain is hilarious and underrated). Forgetting Sarah Marshall starts up a new streak, fitting with Knocked Up, Superbad and 40 Year Old Virgin.

 

Of course, some of us knew his trademark all along, following Apatow and his comedy troupe’s career for a long time. Apatow brought the same brilliance to the small screen with his amazing, under appreciated and short lived sitcoms, Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. It’s really a treat to see all these actors that are blossoming into comedy gods when they were kids. There’s a young Seth Rogen, a 19-year-old James Franco. Linda Cardellini (now on ER and was the love interest in pot-tastic comedy Grandma’s Boy) is the heart of Freaks and Geeks, a show with the tired concept of being in high school but was instead refreshing and touching. There’s so many more actors and actresses that you would recognize. There’s also glimpses of Shia Lebouf and other future stars. Undeclared was the same concept, only for college, and same result: awesome. The show starred Jay Baruchel, seen in Knocked Up as the mohawked friend of Seth Rogen’s character, and Loudon Wainwright. Seth Rogen also plays a main character. Basically the actors in his movies now have been with him since the turn of the decade.

 

But enough about Apatow. He’s not the only one responsible obviously. One name I skipped over on purpose was Jason Segel. He was a big part of both Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, and has been in Knocked Up and other Apatow staples and stars as Marshall on CBS’ criminally underwatched How I Met Your Mother.

 

Segel’s the newest star.

 

I give all the credit in the world to Jason Segel for this movie. He wrote the script, parts painful, hilarious, risky and real. He’s the main star. He’s been working for a big time role since Freaks and Geeks, but the studios didn’t deem him reliable or someone with presence that people can relate to. This was, as usual, ludicrous. It feels good to prove people wrong, right? His all around performance, writing job and contribution to this film can only be described as a tour de force. And hey, you get to see his penis. Three times.

 

A movie like this wouldn’t have been made in old Hollywood, before Apatow showed it could be profitable. The film is about Peter Bretter, long boyfriend to TV star Sarah Marshall, played by the beautiful Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Heroes), who finds himself dumped (and in the most awkward and hilarious way: naked). From there, Peter sobs his way through life, and through the advice of his stepbrother and friend Brian (played by SNL contributor and Apatow staple Bill Hader, also known as one of the crazy cops in Superbad) decides to take a vacation. He goes to Hawaii, and with some movie magic, ends up colliding into Sarah Marshall herself, who herself is canoodling with a British rock star, the front man of band Infant Sorrow, Aldous Snow (played perfectly by Russell Brand). From there, there are newlywed virgins, surfing, Hawaiian food, folk and fun (and liquor), all sorts of hijynx and a new love interest: Rachel Jansen, played by Mila Kunis of That 70s Show fame.

 

After a sometimes rocky and uncomfortable start, Forgetting Sarah Marshall really gets moving once Peter arrives in Hawaii. Coincidentally enough, this is when Peter meets Rachel at the front desk of his Hawaii hotel. She helps him get into the most expensive room in the suite for cheap (for no real apparent reason except she feels sorry for this poor sap), and from there they embark on all stages of a new acquaintance: friendly exchanges, awkward friendship, friends, and then…you can probably guess (hint: lots of loud passionate sex). All the while Peter learns to move on and is helped by this incredible woman Rachel who helps him battle Aldous and Sarah Marshall for “best couple” in bits of competition and hilarity.

 

Mila Kunis’ presence on screen is remarkable. I had my misgivings about her casting, thinking that it would be hard to shake her role on That 70s Show (of which I’ve never truly been able to do for Ashton Kutcher, but have for Topher Grace), and she does so with flying colors. She is gorgeous, funny and someone you’d want to fall in love with, which makes sense. We haven’t seen the last of Kunis, and she could become a bigscreen starlet with more roles like these.

 

Russell Brand as Aldous Snow steals the show. In the trailers and at the beginning, you’re groaning about this annoying cliché British, but by the end, you just love him, and everything he says is gold. Some of the songs created in the show are just hilarious, and made their way on my itunes the day after I saw the movie. Kristen Bell also makes the translation from TV to movies flawlessly. She has to play the villain, but she also has a heart and you feel for her as well. She really is more of a side character than you’d think, with her name in the title, and her best moments come when she’s paired with Billy Baldwin (YES, Billy Baldwin) in scenes from her show Crime Scene: From The Scene of the Crime (these snippets of B-tv show excellence are uproarious). This movie is so well cast, from the top with Segel to the bottom. Jonah Hill makes an appearance as obsessive Aldous fan and hotel waiter, Matthew. Paul Rudd continues his streak of comedcy genius, having ties to the Apatow clan, the Ben Stiller/Will Ferrell and David Wain’s troupe (who made The Ten and Wet Hot American Summer), garnering many laughs in his role as a surf instructor Chuck (although he goes by his Hawaiian name Kunu) and Jack McBrayer rounds out the cast with his typical awkward performance as a virgin newlywed named Darald.

 

The acting and casting is by far the highlight, and the laughs are regular throughout. Segel shows himself capable of being a leading man: you can identify with him, he’s funny and at the same time, you can almost believe this average Joe getting with Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis, which is a feat in itself. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a hilarious romantic comedy, and it has a Dracula musical…with puppets. ‘Nuff said.

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2 Responses to “Just a Quickie: Forgetting Sarah Marshall”

  1. gokitalo Says:

    40-Year-Old Version was pretty funny (as was that one Freaks and Geeks episode I saw), so I may watch this… after I see Iron Man, that is.

  2. The Belated Top 25 Films of 2009 « Goki’s Giving Groin Says:

    […] 9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Why say it all again, when I can link you to my quickie review from last year? […]

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