Reviewed by Steven Frith

My Romantic Comedy Movie Standard – Forgetting Sarah Marshall **New Standard**

Viewed on: 4/19/08

The guys of the Judd Apatow camp strike comedy magic once again as Sarah Marshall is the perfect blend of “toeing the line” comedy and a story about the aftermath of a relationship.

Starring: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, and Paul Rudd

Rating/Length: R / 1 Hour 52 Minutes

Directed By: Nicholas Stoller (no major previous direction that I could find)

Written By: Jason Segel (no major previous writing credit that I could find)

Synopsis: Recently dumped musician, Peter Bretter, goes on a Hawaiian vacation (thankfully not on Aloha Airlines) to get away from everything that reminded him of his actress girlfriend, Sarah Marshall. Once in Hawaii, it doesn’t take long for him to run into, none other then, Sarah Marshall…with her new boyfriend. The aftermath of the encounter will shape the future of both of their lives.


Honest Opinion: All good things come to an end, and because of this, I know it’s only a matter of time before these Judd Apatow movies lose their luster. The seemingly endless list of recent successes that he has touched include Superbad, 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Talladega Nights, and Anchorman. When you put those together with his TV successes, you are assembling one “fairly” impressive resume. Well, after viewing Sarah Marshall, it looks as if we (thankfully) are going to have to wait a bit longer for that “end” to happen.

Director Nicholas Stoller and writer/star, Jason Segel combine to create the perfect romantic comedy that satisfies both the guys and the girls in the audience. The raw comedy may not have been as high as Superbad or the 40-Year Old Virgin, but that doesn’t mean that it was lacking as I laughed from beginning to end. As a writer, Segel made the characters extremely likeable and easy to relate to. The magic in this movie is that you could sympathize with everybody from Peter (our main character), Sarah (the actress/ex-girlfriend), Rachel (hotel front-desk clerk), and even Aldous (the European rock-star new boyfriend of Sarah who may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but still seems like a cool guy) as they suffer from heartbreak, embarrassment, confusion, awkwardness and grief.

I actually had the chance to partake in a focus group for the previews of Forgetting Sarah Marshall a couple months ago, therefore watching the many forms of the trailers several times (at least I got paid to do it). While some of the previews make the movie look like your classic “girl breaks up with boy and boy getting back at girl,” (without getting into too much detail) Segel’s script did a nice job of steering clear of that as life rarely allows us to act in such a way. Instead, that is replaced with criss-crossing relationships and complexities that even the best of us can relate with. And other then being forced to look at Jason’s prosthetically enhanced 11th appendage about five times too many, I was very happy to be involved in these characters lives for the two hours of this movie, and there is a good chance I will see it again soon.

Directing: As I have mentioned before, I feel like directing a comedy is more not messing it up rather than forcing something to happen. That being said, Stoller did just that. While there was really nothing original or groundbreaking, he kept the story moving and got solid performances out of his actors.

Writing: Writing a comedic romantic-comedy can’t be easy. The genre has been done so many times that usually either a) they are all the same jokes or b) everyone tries to be so original that it just comes off as corny and unrealistic. While not a perfect script, Forgetting Sarah Marshall does well at keeping the characters real, not allowing the story to become too predictable, and including well placed one-liners to keep the audience off-balance.

Acting: No one is going to win any Academy Awards from this, but just about everyone was very realistic and likeable. There was good chemistry between all of the four main characters and most of them acted how a lot of people would if put in the same situations.

Music: There may or may not be a soundtrack to buy, but music did have a large part of the overall movie. Peter is a musician for a crime show that pokes fun at, particularly, CSI Miami (you’ll see what I mean). Sarah’s new boyfriend is a very promiscuously influenced musician and lets that come out in his performances. There are other parts too, but I don’t want to give away major parts to the movie.

To Quote the Movie: Matthew (played by Jonah Hill): I have a question for you real quick. What did you think of my demo? Did you get it?
Aldous Snow (with English accent): I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life.
(Many of the best quotes weren’t appropriate for my little review here)

Verdict: SEE IT TONIGHT. Bring a date. It is worth the price of admission…and an overpriced popcorn and Coke – it’s only 25 cents more for the large after all.

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