Sunday, April 27, 2008

Review: Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008 ) [Reviewed By Kelsey Zukowski]

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Starring: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand
Directed By: Nicholas Stoller
Written By: Jason Segel
Released: 2008
Grade: A

Just looking at the people involved with Forgetting Sarah Marshall, having anything but the highest expectations seems out of the question. Judd Apatow producing it nearly guarantees a laugh out loud film. Of course, one of his regulars, Jason Segel takes the lead on this aside from the loveable and charismatic Kristen Bell, and the beautiful and fiery Mila Kunis. Jason Segel shows such a quirky and goofy attitude through his fiercely funny acting. He shows this week after week on How I Met Your Mother as well as in Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, and his performance in Knocked Up. Not only does he give a great performance, but he wrote the film as his screenwriting debut.

Peter (Segel) has been dating TV star, Sarah Marshall (Bell) for 5 years. He is a composer and makes the musical segments for Sarah’s crime investigation drama. As she seems to be working more and more, Peter gets very anxious to see her. However, this anxiety doesn’t lead to anything good. As soon as Sarah gets back she breaks up with a completely naked and vulnerable Peter. He is absolutely devastated by this especially when it comes out that Sarah has met someone else, a raunchy out there rock star, Aldous Snow (Brand). Peter tries to get over Sarah, but he has a lot of trouble. He meets a lot of other girls and has countless one night stands. This just makes him miss Sarah more and more. It doesn’t help that he still has to see Sarah all the time in the press and even at work. His stepbrother, Brian (Hader) and his wife, Liz (Cackowski) try to help him through this and think a vacation would be best for him right now. So Peter goes on a trip to Hawaii, but he ends up in the same hotel as Sarah and Aldous.

At first this seems like a nightmare to Peter, but he also uses this situation to keep an eye on Sarah. He tries meeting friends so he can have a good time while he’s there. The woman at the front desk of the hotel, Rachel (Kunis) helps him with this. She had a long term boyfriend who she moved to Hawaii for. She dropped out of college for him and he ended up cheating on her just a few weeks later. So she knows what he’s going through. They end up spending a lot of time together. While things start not to look so good for Sarah, jealousy breaks out. This vacation has done a lot for Peter though and he begins to realize that he might be even better without Sarah. Rachel pushes him to do things that he can really be passionate about such as a musical version of “Dracula” with puppets, showing the misunderstanding and yearning for love that this vampire has, much like Peter.

The cast is incredible here and add so much to the enjoyment of the film. Jason Segel as the writer obviously had a good understanding of the film. Even beyond that, certain elements of Peter were based on experiences of Segel’s life. The “Dracula” musical seems so funny and out there, especially when it is actually performed on stage with puppets and humans on a full stage of darkness doom and fierce love. It works well and adds to a strength that Peter finds, but also further evidence that him and Sarah weren’t meant to be together. However, it makes you think why this? What even made them think of this? Well the answer is that Segel himself once attempted to make this same musical with puppets included. He also was in a similar situation to the break up that Peter encountered just with a little more dignity and less desperation. Jason Segel is just so much fun to watch. He doesn’t overplay the sadness, but does show that his character is at an extreme, the absolute low of being dumped by someone you thought loved you. Peter isn’t just there for us to feel sorry for him though. He is someone we can genuinely feel for through and through. He is just someone we want the best for and to live life with out fear or holding back. Kristen Bell is wonderful as Sarah Marshall. She nails the bitch role here, but not stereotypically. Her character does develop and we see that there is a bit more to here. Of course what she did wasn’t right and isn’t deserving of any second chances even for us as the viewer. However, we see that she is still human. Mila Kunis is as good in Forgetting Sarah Marshall as she was in her long role as Jackie in That 70’s show, perhaps even better. She is definitely more likeable as Rachel, and has terrific chemistry with Segel. Their characters have a lot in common and can help each other in so many ways. Even beyond that though, she is just a delight to watch and seems to exert some life back in to Peter. Russell Brand was quite funny as the rock star boyfriend. He is very shallow ladies’ man. His care free attitude and absurdities really added the comedy, especially since this is the replacement of Peter.

Brian Bretter of Superbad added a lot of comedy as Peter’s stepbrother. Even Liz Cackowski as his wife made the advice segments to Peter of the movie very entertaining. Jonah Hill has a supporting role as the waiter at the hotel’s restaurant adds a lot in the time he has. He plays an obsessive fan of Aldous Snow. Just his behaviors to show this fanatic admiration is humorous. His best scenes are with Segel, as he is surprised and feeling sorry for him that he is all alone on vacation eating at the restraint. Another member of the Apatow team, Paul Rudd, plays the absent minded surf instructor and shop keeper. He picks up this surfer mentality and even adds some stoner type of comedy without explicitly making it clear this is what he’s doing. Also one of the hotel guests played by Jack McBrayer who is a regular on 30 Rock is a very religious and not very sexually daring man on his honeymoon.

As far as break up movies go, this is one of the best. I really don’t have any complaints. The one warning I have is that this film is full of nudity. It is actually more male nudity than female. More towards the beginning with the lesser known actresses there is more shown, but the main focus is Jason Segel. At times, it does seem excessive, but it is justified at the same time. The nakedness of Peter shows a certain desperation and fragility, as if he has taken off all of his layers off and has no armor left to protect him. It is interesting though seeing him like this at the beginning and how a very similar situation happens at the end with Rachel. The thing is though it is completely different. He still has his layers off, but this represents him being his true self and not being ashamed of it. Rachel, unlike Sarah, accepts him in this way and even more than that encourages and embraces it. One very funny thing about the film is there is a segent where they are making fun of a movie Sarah Marshall was in that follows a very similar description to Pulse, the horrendous movie that Kristen Bell stared in. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is loads of fun from beginning to end. The acting is incredible through so many versatile and thoroughly enjoyable characters. Jason Segel has tremendously succeeded as a screenwriting with this being his first film. I look forward to seeing him as well as the whole Apatow team that seem to continuously pop up in each other’s movies.

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