Every once in a while, a movie lives up to its hype. I am so glad that one of those movies is Forgetting Sarah Marshall. After the intense advertising campaign, including “You Suck Sarah Marshall” posters in cities and a fake blog by Jason Segel’s character, I was starting to think that maybe it wasn’t going to be as funny as I had hoped. The opening breakup scene, with a completely naked Jason Segel, assured me otherwise.
Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) is a musician who was just dumped by his girlfriend of five years, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). She’s the star of Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime, a CSI or Law & Order-type show (which also stars Billy Baldwin as a very David Caruso-esque character), which Peter also works on as a composer. After the bad breakup, Peter takes a trip to Hawaii to escape from all the memories. Of course, Sarah happens to be vacationing at the same resort…with her new boyfriend, rockstar Aldous Snow (Russell Brand).
The movie is hilarious. A lot of the jokes are shock value jokes (like the many shots of Jason Segel nude), but there’s more to it than that. It’s funny also in that “oh my God, I’ve been there” kind of way. (Not that any of us have dated a TV star and then flown to Hawaii to recover from the breakup only to discover they’re there too, but we all have bad breakups, awkward meetings with exes, and all around weird dating stories.) There are subtle jokes too, like Jason Segel playing the Muppets theme (he’s writing the new Muppets movie) and everyone trashing Sarah Marshall’s movie about the cell phones that kill you (Kristen Bell starred in Pulse, a horror movie about teenagers dying from their electronics).
The cast is definitely the best part of the movie. Jason Segel (also the writer, and he’s awesome at that too) is great as the heartbroken ex-boyfriend trying to move on. He seems to just be a naturally funny guy, and he comes across as very genuine. Kristen Bell is her usual cute, perky self, but with a bit of an extra gloss on her acting. A friend who went to the screening with me mentioned that she wasn’t sure if Kristen Bell seemed insincere because we weren’t supposed to side with her character, or if that’s just how she is. I tend to think the former, but I’m a biased Veronica Mars fan.
Mila Kunis is adorable as Rachel Jansen, the hotel desk clerk, and looks absolutely fabulous in regular clothes (rather than bell bottoms and flowered shirts from That ’70s Show). She shows that she’s not just a pretty face, but a true comedic actress. Russell Brand as Aldous Snow was the perfect jackass rockstar.
The supporting cast is just as important – Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, and Bill Hader are all fantastic. Rudd is the surfing instructor who’s not quite all there. He delivers the best line of the entire movie (“When life gives you lemons, just say ‘F*** the lemons,’ and bail.”). Jonah Hill could not be more awkward as the resort waiter obsessed with Sarah Marshall’s new boyfriend. I wish there had been more of him in the movie. Bill Hader is a guy who I’m not too fond of on SNL, but after seeing him in Superbad and now in this, I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t like the characters they give him on SNL. He’s really funny as Peter’s step-brother in this, and as the cop in Superbad. Jack McBrayer (Kenneth from 30 Rock) is also awkwardly hilarious as the newlywed with trouble in the bedroom.
The movie was ridiculously funny, and I’m definitely going to see it a second time in the theater since there were times when the audience was laughing so long for one joke that I’m sure we missed more jokes. Jason Segel is a very funny man. The story is new, while still being familiar territory of bad breakups. The dialogue is impressively quick and natural. I’m sure this movie is going to be a huge success for him. I just hope his movie-writing/starring career doesn’t make him too busy for How I Met Your Mother – it wouldn’t be the same without Marshall Ericksen.
My one tiny complaint is that it seemed just a bit too long. I don’t think that there are necessarily scenes that could be cut, but just that it felt a little long by time we got to the end.
I definitely recommend going to see this in the theater. I have to add the warning that you might not want to bring your mom to see it, since you’ll be seeing more of Jason Segel’s penis than you ever needed to see.
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