Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) ****

I love the premise of this film. A guy gets dumped. Heartbroken, he goes on vacation to ease his depression, but he chooses a spot in Hawaii where his ex-girlfriend had always wanted to go. Lo and behold, his ex and her sexy, famous boyfriend are there, and the guy has to spend his vacation repeatedly running into them. To me that’s just a classic, romantic comedy storyline. It could have been made in the 1930’s by Ernst Lubitsch, or in the 40’s with William Powell and Myrna Loy. Albert Brooks could have knocked this one out of the park in the 80’s. The key to telling this story at any point, of course, is the acting and script, and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” nails it on both counts.

Jason Segel plays the dopey doughboy Peter, who disintegrates into a crying mess after his actress girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristin Bell) kicks him to the curb. Segel also wrote the screenplay, and the seen where he gets dumped while naked is taken from his own life. (By the way, ladies, you get treated to some full-frontal in this scene, if that’s what you’re into.) Kristin Bell plays the heartbreaker without over-vamping it, and when she eventually tells Peter why she broke up with him, you can identify with her a little. Meanwhile, Mila Kunis is straight-up adorable as Peter’s new love interest.

Then there’s Aldous Snow, Sarah Marshall’s pop-singer, himbo of a new boyfriend played by British comic Russell Brand. He is, as he puts it, “…famous, mostly for my sins.” The former addict (“One drink, and by the end of the night I’ll be rimming waiters for their tip money so I can go buy a rock.”) struts around in leather pants and serenades Sarah with his hit single, “Inside of You,” but even this farcical character has some depth in Jason Segel’s thoughtfully crafted story.

A while back I read an article entitled, “Are Men the New Women?” The article cited “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” as an example of how movies and TV seem to be full of guys who are sensitive, vulnerable, needy, and cry a lot. It’s true; I don’t think Steve McQueen or Lee Marvin could even get a movie role these days. I have another observation to add to this role reversal bit. Movies these days feature more male nudity than female nudity. “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” for example, features Jason Segel’s schlong in two separate scenes. The closest thing to female nudity is a grainy Polaroid of a girl who might be Mila Kunis flashing her tits. It used to be the other way around in movies, which is the way God intended it. I think I’m gonna blame this one on the queers. We know everyone in Hollywood is gay, and all this on-screen sausage fits right in with their “agenda.”

Other than seeing more of Jason Segel than I bargained for, I absolutely loved “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” It is produced by Apatow Productions, meaning that the major players are all connected to Judd Apatow, the new godfather of comedy with a heart. If you have the means, I highly suggest you pick it up.

4 stars out of 5

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