Thursday, May 1, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Semi-loser boyfriend gets dumped by his much-more-attractive significant other of 6 years, then attempts to comically wallow in his own grief. Sound familiar?

The “break-up” movie is becoming increasingly popular, and while most fall flat with tired formula, comedy genius Judd Apatow gives Forgetting Sarah Marshall a fresh, hilarious spin on the used romance.

Jason Segel (who also wrote the script) is fantastic as Peter, a struggling musician who gets dropped by his famous actress girlfriend, Sarah Marshall. In an effort to get over it, Peter travels to Hawaii to escape his misery. Of course, Sarah is staying at the same resort with her new beau, British rocker Aldous Snow. But Peter has his eye on one of the workers from the resort, Rachel (Mila Kunis from That ‘70s Show). Jealousy takes hold as our characters developed antic after wild antic.

Director Nicholas Stoller takes good notes from Apatow, making the most normal situation hilariously awkward. The break-up scene is one for the ages, free-ball and all. Stoller has a keen eye for comedic timing and quick editing; the rebound-sex montage will leave you gasping for breath between out-loud laughs.

Sweet, innocent Kristen Bell (TV’s Veronica Mars, Heroes) gives Sarah a great wit with a bag full of insecurities. Credit Bell for being able to jump out of her usual role, she knocks it out. Kunis, far from her whiney ‘70s Show character, is great as a young woman smitten by a man’s grief. Kunis’ charm is unlike any other I’ve seen from this generation of actors. Don’t be surprised if you fall victim to her impeccable beauty which she outshines with her acting skill. We’ll be seeing a lot more of her.

A great supporting cast of Apatow regulars (Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader) all contribute to the film’s bliss. Jack McBrayer (the geeky page from 30 Rock) has a lot of fun as a sexually repressed newlywed. But it’s Segel’s show. The scene stealer from Knocked Up (he was the sporty-clothed charmer of the group that lived in the house) gives a star-making performance. His rapid-paced timing shines through in every scene.

While Segel and the two beauties are the stars, there is on performance here that exceeds all others. Russell Brand as Snow is one of the funniest, most rich comedic characters I have seen in some time. Brand, a British comedian, effortlessly glides through the film, delivering his lines with a reserved-suave charm, never over-the-top. He makes Snow one hell of a likable guy, leaving sleaziness out. Snow’s nonchalant attitude is the best part of the film, Brand is the one you’ll be quoting long after you leave the theatre. A-


  1. Not my kind of movie. At all.

    I loved it. Like every other genre, romcoms are better when they're smart.

    I need Jason Segel to get out of the never-mind-autopilot-we-already-crashed-into-the-mountain-three-seasons-ago How I Met Your Mother and focus on movies. He's the big talent, no question.

    As you predicted, Mila Kunis has become an absolute delight. She cannot appear in a scene and make it anything less than wonderful. Beautiful, but projects a sort of street sassiness that makes her seem real.

    Kristen Bell has caught my eye of late too. She's the best thing on House Of Lies (I'm looking at you, Cheadle). One could spend a worse afternoon than going back and looking at all her appearances on the Late Late Show (something like 25-30, all on youtube). Excellent rapport with Craig Ferguson, interesting, funny. I actually never saw Veronica Mars, but it's in the queue to go back and look at.

    1. I really like this one too. And it's funny to go back and wish Kunis a long and hopeful career, and see that she has that now. I agree that Segel needs to stop phoning it in via HIMYM, and deliver some good films roles.

      Gonna have to look up Bell's Late Late appearances! Thanks for brining them to my attention.