November 26, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

One of my favorite (and most underrated) shows on TV is How I Met Your Mother. It has the distinction of being, aside from The Office, the only live-action sitcom in my TiVo’s Season Pass.

One of the stars of HIMYM (as we fans sometimes call it) is Jason Segel, aka “Marshall” – which is a nice segue into my review of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, written by and starring Segel himself.

Segel plays Peter Bretter, a frustrated musician who works as the composer for a cop show – starring his girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) – while trying to finish his dream project: a vampire puppet musical (you read that right).
• After Sarah breaks up with Peter (in a much-ballyhooed scene where Segel is nude), he escapes to Hawaii to be alone, since he had planned to go there anyway before he and Sarah broke up. But guess who else decides to go to Hawaii, and stay at the same hotel – bringing along the man she cheated on Peter with: rock star Aldous Snow (an often hilarious, over-the-top Russell Brand).
• While at the hotel, Peter gets sympathy from (and falls for) hotel employee Rachel, played by That ‘70s Show’s Mila Kunis.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall did offer me several chuckle-out-loud jokes, but overall, I didn’t laugh as much as I had hoped. Still, I found myself invested in the story and Peter’s adventures. Segel does what anyone should do with a character: he makes you feel for Peter, you squirm with his pain, and you actually feel happy for him when things go his way or people treat him nicely.

One pleasant surprise was watching Mila Kunis. She shows nearly none of the traits of her screechy, annoying ‘70s Show character Jackie, and several times I forgot it was Kunis I was watching. It was enjoyable to see her maturing as an actress.

Cameos in the film include Saturday Night Live’s Kristin Wiig as a passive-aggressive yoga instructor, Knocked Up’s Paul Rudd as a spacey surfing instructor, and Superbad’s Jonah Hill as a hotel employee who idolizes Russell Brand’s rock-star character. And SNL’s Bill Hader turns in a hilarious supporting role as Peter’s stepbrother.

I do have one larger gripe, and it’s not with the film itself, but with the way it was marketed...

In all the TV and online trailers, Forgetting Sarah Marshall was promoted as a knee-slapping, potentially gross-out comedy – when in reality, it plays more like a dramedy. I accuse last summer’s Knocked Up of the same crime; that too was more slice-of-life with occasional riotous humor. When you expect one thing and are given another, it can be a letdown – even if what you’re shown is good. (An observation: Judd Apatow directed Knocked Up and produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I wonder if he oversaw their trailers, too.)

Rating: 3 stars (out of 5).

Will your kids want to watch it?
If you have teens or pre-teens, I can see why they might think Forgetting Sarah Marshall is cut from the same cloth as Superbad, just with older stars. However, be forewarned that in addition to some rather explicit adult language, the film has A LOT of graphic sexual situations (naked and clothed), plus non-sexual nudity by Segel that reveals his, uh, “little Jason.”

Will your FilmMother like it?
Probably, since it’s a relationship movie that – despite ingredients that include Hawaii, a rock star boyfriend, and a vampire puppet show – is ultimately relatable. And you don’t have to tell her this, but it does provide a sweet ending – though it could have reached it a bit sooner, in my opinion (the film clocks in at 2 full hours).

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
* Director: Nicolas Stoller
* Screenwriter: Jason Segel
* Stars: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Bill Hader
* MPAA Rating: R (sexual content, language and some graphic nudity)

Buy this movie for less at >>


Gemma said...

I, too, love HIMYM. I love the whole cast, especially Neil Patrick Harris. Sorry to see this movie did not quite measure up to FF's expectations. Sounds as if it did have some funny moments, though. I thought the idea of a vampire puppet musical was a hilarious concept!

Kristin said...

Will your FilmMother like it?

Hmmm....I guess you have to ask her to watch it with you first! ;) Honestly, I wouldn't have minded seeing this one, but I didn't realize it everyone was so naked everywhere (besides the "little Jason" scene everyone was talking about, of course).

Daddy Geek Boy said...

I dug this movie, as did my (non)FilmMother.

FYI...Usually the filmmakers have very little input into how their movies are marketed. If you have issues with a campaign, aim your ire at the marketing departments of the studios releasing the movies.


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