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Monday, April 28, 2008

FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (2008) - Nicholas Stoller

Less than a month after the truly awful Drillbit Taylor, the Judd Apatow camp has released another comedy. This time, the film follows the formula of the other major hits, such as The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. But, remarkably, Seth Rogen doesn’t make one appearance in this film! Not even a cameo. This time, the protagonist is played by Jason Segel, Rogen’s mate Jason from Knocked Up. Segel follows in Rogen’s footsteps in that he also wrote Forgetting Sarah Marshall himself, and it’s directed by Nicholas Stoller.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall continues the formula of the lovable loser who does good, that worked so well for previous Apatow directed and produced hits. This time, the loser in question is Peter Bretter. He’s a music composer for hit television show, Crime Scene, which also stars his girlfriend, Sarah Marshall. Sarah arrives on Peter’s doorstep one afternoon to break up with Peter, something that leaves him devastated. In order to forget his troubles, Peter takes a holiday in Hawaii, something he and Sarah always planned to do. But to his despair, Peter discovers Sarah is staying in the same hotel with her new boyfriend, pop star, Aldous Snow.

I’ll admit, when I saw the trailer for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, my immediate reaction was, PASS. After the piece of muck that was Drillbit Taylor, and considering the film looked like the same routine that was done in these films before, I was just not into going through the motions yet again. But after seeing Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I’m pleased to admit that my initial reactions were wrong. Sure, the whole loveable loser schtick is repeated here, but the resulting film goes to prove that if something ain’t broke, don’t fix it! And the schtick works again. The acid test for a comedy, no matter how formulaic it is, or how many times it’s been done, is whether or not it is funny. Laughs are paramount, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall has plenty.

Jason Segel who plays Peter steps up from being a support player to being the lead, and succeeds without any real problems. He’s completely sympathetic as the centre for all the action to take place around. And while he’s not the funniest character in the film, he does provide a solid base for all the laughs to sit on top of. The titular character, Sarah Marshall, is played by Kristen Bell. I only know Bell from the god-awful television show, Heroes, and she somewhat reprises the ‘bitch’ role for this film. But rather than paint her into being a stereotype, Segel makes her a more sympathetic character, so she isn’t just a figure the audience can hate. Bell carries this off without any problem. Her new boyfriend, musician and lothario, Aldous Snow is played by British comedian, Russell Brand. I’m no fan of Brand’s stand-up, and I was unsure if he’d be able to pull off the role, but he’s actually very good in the role. Like Marshall, he’s not a hate-figure in the film and instead is quite a likable character. Brand seems very comfortable in the role (given what’s been reported about his partying lifestyle, this comes as no surprise) and delivers some of the film’s funnier lines with great comic timing.

The rest of the cast is filled with some familiar Apatow faces. Stalwart, Paul Rudd pops up as Chuck, the stoner surf instructor. Superbad star Jonah Hill has a great small role as a waiter who is somewhat obsessed with Aldous Snow. And Mila Kunis plays the new object of Peter’s affections, Rachel Jansen. All are very comfortable in their roles and fit into the story without seeming tacked-on.

While it’s true that Forgetting Sarah Marshall falls into the Apatow-mould like the other films, it finds it holds it’s own in the series. It’s very funny and very likable. And while it’s not groundbreaking, it doesn’t need to be. It’s just very entertaining.


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