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Cut Out the Ending and its Great, 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.