Saturday, May 10, 2014

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Originally Written and Posted at on 4/20/08 w/ Additional Edits & Revisions

Directed by Nicholas Stoller and written and starring Jason Segel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the story of a TV music composer whose TV-star girlfriend breaks up with him as he drowns his sorrow by taking a trip to Hawaii only to learn that his ex-girlfriend is there with her new rock-star boyfriend as he gains the pity of a hotel receptionist. The film is an exploration into the world of break-ups and how a man tries to deal with a four-year relationship coming to an end as it's told in a largely comedic manner. Also starring Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Bill Bader, Jonah Hill, and Paul Rudd. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a witty yet touching romantic-comedy from Nicholas Stoller.

Breaking up is a moment that is hard for most people to deal with as the film is about this TV music composer named Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) who is dumped by his longtime TV actress girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) as he becomes depressed and despondent only to take the suggestion of his step-brother Brian (Bill Hader) to travel to Hawaii as he learns that Sarah is staying at the same resort he has checked himself into as she has a new boyfriend in British rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Taking pity on Peter is the hotel receptionist Rachel (Mila Kunis) who had also been through her own relationship issues as the two become friends while Peter would see Sarah during the vacation where he wonders what went wrong and what did he do as well as other things that made their relationship doomed. Especially as Sarah starts to notice Peter's growing friendship with Rachel as Sarah's relationship with Aldous becomes chaotic.

Jason Segel's screenplay does have a few subplots in the people that Peter meets such as a newlywed couple in Darald and Wyoma (Jack McBrayer and Maria Thayer, respectively), a chef named Kemo (Taylor Willy), a bartender named Dwayne, (Davon McDonald), a waiter named Matthew (Jonah Hill) who has a crush on Aldous, and a stoner surf instructor named Kunu (Paul Rudd). Yet, it does play into the world that Peter encounters as he tries to process the heartbreak he's going through as he would often cry hysterically over the break-up. Some parts of the script allows Peter to reflect on some moments about the relationship as his time with Rachel would prove to be helpful into realizing that there's so much more than Sarah Marshall. Especially as Sarah would face her own issues as well as her reasons into breaking up with Peter where even though Peter did play some role into the disillusion of their relationship. It was Sarah that did a lot to make things worse though her character isn't a total bitch.

Director Nicholas Stoller does a solid job with the film's direction while maintaining an intimate setting for the film's characters and their interaction with each other. The use of the Hawaiian locales are truly inspiring and colorful as it brings a lively look to the entire film in comparison to other Apatow-produced features as the film would also include some full-frontal male nudity to add to the raunchy humor of the film. Stoller's improvisation and also knack of humor is similar to the work of Blake Edwards, notably "10" that had a similar presence of a man dealing with a break-up only to fall for some young woman. The result is a comedy that is funny through and through with big laughs and lots of heart as well as real, lively characters.

Cinematographer Russ T. Alsobrook does a great job with the film's intimate, dark look for Los Angeles that is a huge contrast to the colorful, bright look of Hawaii in all of its exterior and interior locales. Editor William Kerr is excellent for giving the film a leisurely-paced feel without any kind of fast cuts to maintain a straightforward look and feel. Production designer Jackson De Govia and set decorator K.C. Fox do a great job in creating the look of the Hawaiian resorts and locales that feels like Hawaii itself. Costume designer Leesa Evans creates a wonderful look in the costumes from the dresses that Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis wears to the shirts that the men wear. Sound editor George H. Anderson does a superb job with the film's sound to convey the atmosphere that is Hawaii. Music composer Lyle Workman brings a wonderful score to convey its tropic look while the soundtrack featuring the Smiths, Jason Segal, Russell Brand, and covers of many pop songs in a Hawaiian style are wonderful. Notably Segal's own songs in the Dracula musical that are top-notch funny.

The casting by Jeanne McCarthy is wonderfully assembled with cameo appearances from such character actors as Gedde Watanabe as the hotel's manager and Branscombe Richard as a luau bartender named Keoki to other notable cameos by surfer Kala Alexander, Apatow regular Carla Gallo as one of Peter's bad dates, and appearances by Access Hollywood reporter Billy Bush, William Baldwin, and Jason Bateman. Taylor Willy and Davon McDonald are funny as two hotel employees Peter befriends as they tell him to stop crying and get his act together while Steve Landesberg is great as a pediatrician who tells him to sleep other women. Liz Cackowski is good as Brian's wife Liz who tries to help but at one becomes part of a sick, raunchy joke by Peter. Apatow cohorts Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill are hilarious in their respective roles as the stoner surf instructor Chuck/Kunu and the hotel's waiter Matthew. Rudd's stoned-out performance is filled with huge laughs including a hilarious scene where he makes fun of Aldous' British accent while Hill is great for his crush on Aldous which suggests that he's a closet homosexual.

30 Rock star Jack McBrayer and Hill's Accepted co-star Maria Thayer are great as an overly-excited newlywed couple where McBrayer's character has a fear of sex as he tries to deal with it with some unlikely help from Aldous. Bill Hader is funny as Peter's stepbrother Brian who tells Peter to get over Sarah while saying bad things about her and such as Hader is funny in his role. One of the film's funniest performances comes from British actor/musician/TV personality Russell Brand as Aldous Snow, a cocky yet whimsical man who likes to do strange sex moves in bed or on the stage. Yet, sporting many tattoos, the man despite some of his actions and off-kilter personality is just... cool. Brand's performance is just funny throughout the entire film as he reveals that despite his own nature, the character of Aldous Snow will always remain cool.

Kristen Bell is excellent in the role of Sarah Marshall who, despite her actions in breaking Peter's heart, is a full character who is trying to move on with Aldous only to realize that she might not have a future and how much she actually loved Peter. Bell brings a nice touch of sexiness, humor, and certainly a bit of bitchiness to her role as a young woman who doesn't really understand love. The film's big revelation and certainly one of the film's best performances is Mila Kunis who some might remember for her role as Jackie in the TV show That 70's Show. Kunis' lively, free-spirited performance is a joy to watch as she helps Peter deal with his heartbreak, curse out her ex-boyfriend, and observe Sarah Marshall. Kunis adds some sexiness to her own but it's the way she portrays Rachel with such heart and warmth as the girl Peter should be with.

Then there's Jason Segel, an Apatow regular, who delivers a great performance as Peter Bretter. Segel's performance is filled with a lot of laughs as he cries about his break-up, cries after sex, and also expose himself during some moments that are supposed to be sad but end up being funny. Segal is truly genius as he doesn't do any kind of raunchy gags but brings sympathy to a guy who is trying to get over Sarah Marshall while wondering what broke them up. He's also funny when he's doing his stuff that involves his Dracula musical that shows his wonderful talents. He's also worthy of doing something dramatic while having wonderful chemistry with both Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis. Segal gives a real star-making performance that will put him in great company among his Apatow cohorts.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a hilarious yet heartfelt comedy from Nicholas Stoller that features amazing work from Jason Segel and Mila Kunis. Along with a great supporting cast that includes Kristen Bell and Russell Brand, it's a film that has a lot of raunchy elements that is expected from the Judd Apatow-produced comedies but also a lot of heart that allows the film to be more engaging and accessible to a wider audience. In the end, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a remarkable film from Nicholas Stoller.

Nicholas Stoller Films: (Get Him to the Greek) - (The Five-Year Engagement) - Neighbors (2014 film) - Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising - (Storks (2016 film))

© thevoid99 2014


Brittani Burnham said...

I loved this movie. I remember when IMDb accidentally had Kirsten Bell as a Golden Globe nominee for this when they were announcing the nominations, I was actually kind of sad when they corrected it.

thevoid99 said...

That's terrible. She was good in that film as was Mila Kunis as they both should've gotten some recognition. It's a really good movie.