Thursday, May 1, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Sorry it's been a while since my last review. I decided to watch a very light, and very funny movie this time out. Sarah Marshall fit that bill. I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting very much out of it. I was disappointed by one of Judd Apatow's last productions (Walk Hard) and didn't think this one would offer much more. Instead, I was met with a very funny story that just about any loser who's ever been dumped can relate to.

Apatow has a great production model. Find a second tier actor (possibly from a supporting role in one of your previous movies, or even from one of your failed TV shows) use their script (after all, who in Hollywood isn't writing a script?) and let him star. Then bring on board a rookie director, and just let them have fun. More often than not, you'll come out with a hilarious product. For Sarah Marshall, that star/writer is Jason Segel, and that director is Nicholas Stoller.

Segel stars as Peter Bretter, a musician who gets dumped by his Television star girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). In a vain attempt to move on, he goes on a vacation to Hawaii, where he coincidentally runs into Sarah with her new flame, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). He is also a musician- a Gothic sex symbol, a perfect contrast to Bretter's television scores. This chance run-in sends Peter into complete despair, but due to a new romantic interest, Rachel Jansen (Mila Kunis) an employee at the resort, he stays.

This doesn't sound like a terribly funny movie, and some parts of it were fairly serious, but on a whole, it was hilarious. My favorite moments were scenes from Marshall's CSI inspired procedural show- costarring William Baldwin. I hate those shows, and seeing them so deliciously lampooned (Jason Bateman appears as an animal psychic detective), made the entire movie worth it.

Some of the more absurd parts (the nude breakup featured prominently in the trailers, and Bretter's puppet-Dracula rock opera) were actually true stories. And other moments such as an uncomfortable dinner the four main characters have together are so awkward, but painfully funny. The inclusion of Paul Rudd, Jonah, Hill, and Bill Hader as supporting characters seems to support this idea of a sort of Apatow fraternity. It's a tight knit group of very talented comedic actors and writers, just appearing to have fun.

Though Forgetting Sarah Marshall is funny, it won't go down as one of Apatow's most memorable ones. 40 Year Virgin, Knocked Up, and despite many who would agree with me, my favorite- Superbad, will all outlive Sarah Marshall. That doesn't really, matter, though. The Apatow crew has been creating long strings of funny movies for a few years now, and they've hit the ground running in 2008 after a slow end to 2007. Drillbit Taylor, the upcoming Pineapple Express, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall provide cheap, but fun comedy.


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