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Forgetting Sarah Marshall
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Forgetting Sarah Marshall More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

All of the heart of typical Apatow fare at the expense of memorable laughs

Author: pyrocitor from Ontario, Canada
16 March 2009

While the melding of genuine human interplay, romantic comedy tropes and obnoxious male directed humour has seldom proved an easy course to navigate, with many such efforts leaning too strongly on one aspect at the risk of compromising the others, recent comedy superstar Judd Apatow proved particularly deft at manoeuvring the balance between them. Striking a particular chord of vulgar, bawdy humour and sweet sentiment, the unusual balance has recently become almost a subgenre in itself, permeating the recent comedy mainstream. As such, Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which Apatow produced) aims to keep a good thing going, striving for the same unique hybrid which past hits such as Knocked Up and Superbad championed. However, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, try as it might, cannot help but pale in the shadow of its predecessors, offering all of the heart of typical Apatow fare at the expense of exceptional laughs.

Which is not to say the film has nothing to offer comedically, but rather than the memorable factor of it is essentially reduced to two bookending setpieces: the much hyped naked break-up which proves the catalyst setting the plot in motion, and an inspired climax far too good to give away but which proves the indisputable high point of the film. It is the content in the middle which lags, with well intentioned gags such as mopey protagonist Peter (Segel) attempting to overcome his sorrows post break-up through a series of one night stands (though an exceptionally funny montage sequence proves a standout), and eventually fleeing to Hawaii only to find his celebrity ex-girlfriend (Bell) also vacationing there with her new beau (Brand). While the premise offers a tantalising wealth of comedic potential, the execution is less satisfying, with many gags being overly drawn out or overdone to the point of the comedy waning, despite the occasional standout laugh.

It hardly helps when the film becomes drenched in sentiment and a groan-worthy moral of striving for one's dreams being battered over the audiences' collective heads and falls prey to the typical Apatow pitfall of feeling 10-20 minutes overlong. Similarly, director Nicholas Stoller never appears to have an entirely firm grasp of how to treat his protagonist, both at times milking pathos and viewer sympathies from Peter's predicament while otherwise portraying him as weak and pathetic and extracting cruel laughs from his moping, making it more difficult to empathise with the protagonist. Granted, such a dualistic approach does accurately convey the mix of of sympathy and annoyance towards those struggling after a break-up, but a more balanced and cohesive portrayal would have made empathy with the protagonist all the more possible and appealing. However, such a double-edged complaint also mirrors one of the film's foremost strength: the authenticity and credibility of its human interactions. Scripted by star Jason Segel, the characters and their interaction with one another ring laudably true, making the film easily a sufficiently charming and amusing way to spend the time, if not as riotously funny as it feels it should be.

One of the later performers to join the pantheon of "flawed, schlubbish yet earnestly lovable" Apatow heroes, Jason Segel easily exudes easily enough charm to carry the occasionally shaky film, delivering a performance which feels both honest and irreverently silly enough to easily justify his upgrading to leading man. Mila Kunis similarly boasts a unique charm which manages to encompass being both abrasive and tender, making the romantic tension between her and Segel all the more fresh and enticing. Kristen Bell, despite struggling with an underwritten character as Peter's actress ex-girlfriend manages to bring a refreshing honesty to her performance, thankfully defying an easy stereotype to fall into. Similarly, Russell Brant raises several laughs as her spacey, pretentious new age rocker boyfriend, an essential spark of vibrant comedic life which always serves to benefit the picture. The same goes for Apatow stalwarts Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd, both making hilarious use of minuscule supporting parts as an obsessive waiter and brain-dead surfing instructor respectively.

Occasionally clunky and overly syrupy, Forgetting Sarah Marshall remains sweet and likable enough throughout to make it worth its while, though it suffers by comparison to its superior Apatow production predecessors. Nonetheless, what it lacks in belly laughs, the film makes up for in heart, making it an enjoyable if slightly forgetful film worth seeing for any fans of the genre.


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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Cut Out the Ending and its Great

Author: Michael Jumic from United States
8 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Compared with the 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is both surprising and predictable. What's surprising is how a comedy can be so haunting, for lack of a better word. Visually, this movie is amazing, something that one would never expect from a comedy based on so obvious a premise. The natural scenery and other worldly beauty of the film's female stars give everything a fairy tale quality in the strictest possible sense: seductive and irresistible, but at the same time disturbing. This alone makes for the most effective break up movie I've ever seen (face it, break up movies that don't draw us in inevitably fail to convey the complexity of the situation, see High Fidelity).

What's predictable is how something so stimulating and potentially engaging suddenly deflates into an ending and moral that is neither thought-provoking nor, frankly, good. In fact, it's the ending from Problem Child 2! This should come as no surprise to people familiar with this team's other movies, where humor, wit, and insight inevitably give way to the depressing (unless you're a wholly uncritical person) assurance that the ideological balance has been restored and the unquestionably "good" guys have won. Only here, the Apatow ending is shamelessly tacked on to an amazing, and not simply good, movie, and attempts to overwrite the complexity that made the movie so good! What's more, it doesn't really make sense. Turns out the creative nerd is the good guy because in this world, the shameless objectification of attractive women is perfectly acceptable. Sarah turns out to be the wicked witch of the west because she got sick of her dull boyfriend, and is basically punished for being pretty?!?!

Fortunately, as I said, it is tacked on. I plan on re-watching this, only the second time around, I'm going to stop it after he gives Rachel the picture from the bar. That's the real ending to one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Loser morphs into Mensch much too late

Author: Turfseer from United States
11 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Forgetting Sarah Marshall chronicles the misadventures of Peter Bretter, a musician who composes music scores for TV shows. He works on a show called 'Crime Scene' (which is a satiric takeoff on shows like 'CSI'). The star of the show is a cute blonde named Sarah Marshall, who Peter has been dating for about five years. Sarah shows up one day at his apartment and announces that she's dating a rock star and their relationship is over. From the outset one wonders what Sarah sees in Peter. His apartment is a pigsty, he hates his job and it seems that his muse to create a great musical theater piece has completely left him.

Peter has a stepbrother, Brian, who encourages him to start dating other women (Brian and his wife periodically pop up later in the film via a computer video link but the comic possibilities between Peter and his nutty stepbrother are never developed). Peter still can't get Sarah out of his mind so he decides to take a trip to Hawaii where Sarah liked to vacation. When he arrives at the resort hotel without a reservation, a cute brunette working at the front desk, Rachel, takes a liking to him and lets him stay at their most expensive suite for free. Meanwhile, Peter, discovers to his horror that Sarah is staying at the same hotel with her New-Age, rock star boyfriend.

The first half of 'Act 2' focuses on Peter's inability to stop obsessing over the breakup of his relationship with Sarah. The main bit is Peter continually breaking down and crying whenever memories of Sarah pop up in his mind. In one particularly unfunny scene, Peter gets a call from Rachel from the front desk asking whether he can hear a woman crying in an adjacent room; of course it's Peter who's the one who's been bawling the whole time! Meanwhile, Sarah's boyfriend, Aldous Snow is an affable Brit who's avoided drinking for seven years. He invites Peter to dinner but Peter can't face Sarah with the thought that she's with someone else.

At the midpoint, Peter attempts to 'forget' Sarah Marshall. He goes out on a date with Rachel who turns out to have a shady ex-boyfriend who ends up punching Peter in the face. Despite her attraction to bad boys in the past, she finds the goofy Peter amusing and attractive. Peter receives encouragement from various comic types who work at the hotel or hang out at the beach. A loony surfer instructor teaches Peter how to surf but he clumsily ends up colliding with Aldous while surfing and is knocked out cold.

Peter's relationship with Rachel remains platonic. Soon Sarah is finding out that Aldous is no great catch. He announces he's going on tour and might have herpes. Before you know it, he breaks his vow of abstinence and crudely brags of sexual conquests with other women while drunk. Sarah is no longer "into" the boyfriend and wants to start things up with Peter again. They have a brief sexual encounter but Peter realizes he's smitten with Rachel. He confesses to her of his brief fling with Sarah to prove his 'honesty' but Rachel takes it in the wrong way and rejects him. In a last moment of desperation, he tries to prove his love to her by tearing off a topless picture of Rachel pinned on the wall of a bathroom at a local club, only to be mercilessly beaten by the bartender-owner who considers the picture his property and domain.

The beating appears to wake Peter up. He goes home and starts exercising and his muse returns. He's now composing a puppet musical about Dracula. In the best scene of the film, Peter puts his comic musical on before an appreciative audience. One wonders why the Dracula musical couldn't have been developed more and featured as a main part of the plot. Rachel ends up coming to see the musical and they end up reconciling.

Describing the plot of 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' is difficult precisely because it's so disjointed. One searches in vain for a story arc that builds to a satisfying conclusion. Rather 'Marshall' feels like a series of skits thrown together that for the most part do not pay off. And when Peter, our lovable loser hero, finally redeems himself and turns into a 'mensch' at the climax, we've spent much too much time with him as a surly 'loser'; the transformation into a good guy is undeserved as he is basically quite misanthropic until the last 15 minutes of the movie.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall could have been a much better comedy. There was the potential for satire, particularly in the CSI takeoffs at the beginning and end of the film that were never developed into something really clever. The same goes for the aforementioned puppet show (the most original moment in the film). Finally, the idea that Sarah would pathetically try and rekindle her romance with Peter after everything he put her through left me feeling unsatisfied. Despite Peter's positive transformation at the end, somehow I would have liked to have seen Sarah go off on her own without feeling the need to hook back up with an ex-boyfriend who treated her so poorly during most of their relationship.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A clever gem.

Author: AuroraTroll from Seattle, United States
23 May 2008

I am excited about the new crop of American comedies that have been emerging lately. This Rogan/Apatow crew has consistently brought audiences modern stories full of honest characters ("Knocked Up" being the exception) and jokes that have not been dragged through movie mud over and over again.

At first, I was unsure of where the comedy was going with this one. It starts off a little shaky, but then finds its groove and carries the audience laughing all the way through the credits.

The plot is simple: A guy gets dumped. Her tries to et over her, and winds up running into her. Her falls in love with another woman, and the ex now wants him back. Easy enough, right?

But with the dead on humor (some raunchy, some just genuinely hilarious), this movie shines as a comic tour-De-force for all involved. The jokes are timely but not dated (whereas "Knocked Up" lacked credibility with its Hot-Girl-Loves-Slob routine and its dated references to movie lines and TV shows.) This one is funnier than "Knocked Up" and "40 Year Old Virgin," but not quite better than "Superbad." All in all, these original comedies are fresh, exciting and genuine to the core.


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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Much better than expected

Author: MartianOctocretr5 from Redondo Beach, CA
26 April 2008

Although the movie has some of sophomoric humor you would expect from this kind of premise and this group of movie makers, it actually surprises you with some stylish humor in its design that bears some (dare I say it?) originality.

First, it's written with more attention to character study than is customary in these types of comedies. The writer gave them depth, and concocted them with strategic flaws, quirks, strengths, etc., so that their contrasting personalities would collide and bounce off each other with humorous results. The rock star new boyfriend (Russell Brand) of Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) in most movies like this would usually be a worn-out cliché of a dim-witted guy with slow mumbling speech who thinks the world owes him something. If anything, the film actually takes pokes at how these clichés have been so over-used. Brand takes this surprisingly amiable guy, who befriends his potential rival Brian, and runs with it. He gets some of the best laugh lines, too.

Bell, as the titular Sarah Marshall, is excellent. She, too, could have been a stock foul-mouthed, self satisfying, worthless bimbo type who spends hours in front of the mirror. Although the selfishness is there, it's at a believable level, and there are even fleeting moments when a good side to Sarah is shown. Mila Kunis plays Rachel, Peter's new girl friend, who works at a resort hotel in Hawaii, where all the action takes place. Either Kunis has improved immensely since her sitcom "70's Show" days, or else her role here as Rachel just gave her a more rounded character to work with: she is fabulous in this film.

Only Jason Segel (as the broken hearted Peter) is weak in his role; ironic, since he is the writer of the script. It's obvious his intent is to reverse typical gender personality types for the comic effect. Peter is clingy, explosively emotive, cries, and can't let go of the broken relationship. This all works for funny moments, but Segel's performance has a feel of "Look how fully I am!" It's more over done than comic exaggeration needs to be. Also, someone tell Mr. Segel we really don't need to see his full frontal poses: he plays them as a joke, OK, but they evoke barf bag reactions, not laughs.

This film falls into the trap of throwing in some mindless stuff, but overall, it's a surprising treat that's fun to watch.

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Good laughs!

Author: buschman_007 from Maryland
21 April 2008

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie with my girlfriend. Segal has the hurt puppy dog character down pat and he put it to good use in a movie that revolves around it.

I am a huge Kristen Bell fan and she certainly brought her A game. Kunis, also smokin hot, really knocked her role out of the park as well.

Why no 9 or 10 star rating? The overused male full frontal nudity. It's become a disappointing trend in recent movies. You really don't need that sort of shock comedy with material this strong. Plus it's a bit annoying to have two absolutely gorgeous women as Bell and Kunis and the best we get is a bathroom photo and some bikini time. Seriously disappointed in that. I'm sure your target audience is males in the 18-40 category. Think about it! You don't have to go all porkys on us, but a few T & A shots of these two girls would have gotten you those two extra stars. Much like the birthing shot in Knocked up. Yeah it gets people talking, but it detracts from solid comedy material in my mind.

But barring that this was a really funny movie that we enjoyed watching.


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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A Comedy That Does It's Job....Making You Laugh

Author: atliel from United States
20 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I've read some critics complaining about the plot of the film but still agreeing that it's funny. Did I miss something here? Isn't that the point of a comedy? To laugh? If it did its job then it's good! Right? Well, I enjoyed it for all its silliness but even more so because it's easy to relate to. What's great is that none of the characters are card board cut-outs (clichés). As much as you would like to hate Sarah Marshall and her boyfriend there are moments where you sympathize or side with them, not because they're great people (you'll still side with the protagonist) but simply because you get them. You know where they're coming from and this adds a level of complexity missing from too many comedies who run with an overdone Hollywood formula and don't take any risks.

It's an interesting thing to have a particular type of comedy become known solely for its creators: "from the guys who brought you Superbad or Knocked Up or" get the point. It's almost like owning your own sub-genre and this wouldn't be very far fetched considering that the Apatow crowd do follow certain conventions that have become expected within their brand of comedy. For example dirty high school humor from guys who seem trapped between adolescence and adulthood but who, for the most part, are pretty decent people who just want to have fun without the complexities of old age. But those complexities always catch up to them and in the end they confront these problems as mature adults and become wiser for it. I bet most critics never thought of applying film theory to these films but there you have it.

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A great yet crude comedy!!!

Author: ladyIndie from United States
11 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to say that when I first was walking into this special screening I wasn't really expecting greatness. I had seen "Knocked up" and "Superbad" but I had never really gotten into them, but Forgetting Sarah Marshall definitely stood out from the two. Aside from its graphic nudity, the jokes were absolutely hilarious, they had the entire theater laughing hysterically. If you go and see this movie (which you Definitely should) just make sure you don't take it to seriously. The jokes are crude but you can't help but laugh because of the way they are said. The actors in the movie did a great job throughout and I promise you won't leave disappointed. The movie truly is a must-see!

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Great and funny.

Author: Ben Vales (ExemplarCaptus) from United States
4 April 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'm not going to write too much as it's a fun film, and not one that I generally analyze.

I'm glad I got a sneak peak to Sarah Marshall. I've always been a fan of Superbad, and Knocked-up. So, I might be a bit biased. Not thinking of the films I mentioned earlier I must say I was laughing my ass off quite a bit. I think anyone with an opened mind that loves to laugh will enjoy this film. It is a love story, yes. But It was a great ride, and I recommend it to anyone.

There are 3 scenes that were particularly hilarious to me. Lets just say they have to do with puppets... psychiatrists... and blue balls. :D

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7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Worst movie of 2008

Author: Oddo Luque from Venezuela
22 November 2008

I wasn't prepared for this crappy movie, I thought it was going to be something good you know, the producers of ..... NO! it was lame, sad, pathetic, nice backdrop but that's about it, there's not a single funny line in this movie, I WANT MY MONEY BACK. Well, the girls are nice looking, I think Kunis, could be doing something better than this kind of movies, I mean she's got something in her acting, I guess she could do better, the sex scenes, stupid, the cast, oh my, oh my the cast, the worst ensemble I've seen so far for the producing company, not a good movie at all people. Not worthy of our time. 1/10 awful awful awful awful. 40 year old virgin, that's what you want to see....

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