Monday, May 5, 2008

Vulgarity...with Heart

Like Judd Apatow produced Knocked Up and 40 Year-Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall has its fair share of crude jokes, lewd scenes, and full frontal nudity. Also like Knocked Up and 40 Year-Old Virgin, Forgetting Sarah Marshall has a solid heart with great characters. As one reviewer said, the movie isn't afraid "to strip a man naked, literally and figuratively."

Peter Bretter (Jason Segal) is a television composer who's one of the luckiest men in the world. He has a good job, and he's in a long-term relationship with hot television star Sarah Marshall (Kriten Bell)...until Sarah comes home one day and dumps him.

Needless to say, Peter doesn't take the break-up well. On the advice of his step-brother (Bill Hader), Peter takes a needed vacation to beautiful Hawaii, just to find Sarah there with her new man Aldous Snow (the friggin' hilarious Russell Brand). Seeing Peter's depression getting worse, hotel employee Rachel (Mila Kunis) encourages him to have fun. Peter and Rachel end up falling for each other, but things become complicated when Sarah realizes what a good man she's lost.

Because I don't usually go this route, let's talk about what didn't work in this movie. Her name is Kristen Bell. To be fair, her character Sarah is written as a bitch. She's stuck up, a little fake, and just all around the wrong girl for Peter. But Bell played the character with no real redeeming qualities. There's a scene near the end when Sarah and Peter have a heart-to-heart conversation, and I just didn't buy it. Maybe that's the point, but it just didn't sit well with me.

Even with Kristen Bell's so-so performance, I still loved the movie. Jason Segal's Peter is a great character, so great that I got the odd feeling Segal wrote the character from personal experience. Peter is perfectly pitiful (sorry for the alliteration), and all I wanted to do was give the guy a great big hug the entire movie.

Russell Brand, as I've already mentioned, is friggin' hilarious. Aldous Snow is an ultra-cool guy you just don't want to like. He's shallow, blunt, and a complete weirdo, but he's honest and likable too. And his music? Wow. I'm hoping the full music video will be an extra on the DVD!

Mila Kunis, who's work on That 70's Show never really impressed me, is terrific in Sarah Marshall. I've heard her comedy timing on Robot Chicken and Family Guy, but it's nice to see her when she's being funny as well. Rachel is the girl every guy wants to meet. She's cute, funny, and a little tomboyish.

Bill Hader's deadpan works perfectly. As Peter's step-brother Brian, he's the voice of reason that always seems to be the butt of Peter's jokes. His best scene starts with the line "Do you really want to go there?" Look for it. You'll laugh very hard.

The supporting characters include a spaced-out surf instructor (played by Apatow regular Paul Rudd), an overenthusiastic Aldous Snow fan (Jonah Hill, another regular), and newlyweds who are having, um, trouble in the bedroom (Jack McBrayer and Maria Thayer). The latter story is definitely odd, and the movie would've flowed just fine without it, but Jack McBrayer has one of the funniest lines in the whole movie. It involves paradise and sewage. You'll either laugh very hard or be a little grossed out, either way, it's still hysterical.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall has its romantic comedy predictability, but the vulgar, over-the-top sophomoric stuff helps you get past knowing exactly how the story will end. It's laugh-out-loud-with-tears-in-your-eyes funny, but it's also sweet and endearing.

Plus, any movie with a scene involving puppets gets extra points.

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