To quote the most famous line in the very well known movie Forrest Gump, “Momma says life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your going to get”. From the beginning I expected Forgetting Sarah Marshall to be a hilarious, semi-sweet romantic comedy full of vulgarity and nudity. For the most part, I got what I expected, but what I didn’t prepare for was a romantic comedy that was not romantic 65% of the time, but instead genuinely deep and layered with a lot more anger than most comedies out there today (similar to The Heartbreak Kid). The characters were all very real and three-dimensional and this fact elevated this film miles above any other comedy that has come out this year.
The story starts with the ugly break-up between Peter (Jason Segel), a semi-famous composer and his ultra-famous actress girlfriend of five years, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). As he despairs, his step-brother Brian (Bill Hader) convinces him that he needs to take a vacation to clear his head and to get his priorities straight. And so he does – the movie spends the vast majority of its two hour running time in beautiful Hawaii, as Peter takes that vacation to forget about his ex-girlfriend. But the joke is on him because he ends up staying at the same hotel as Sarah and her new boyfriend Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Thankfully, the hotel employs a super-cute customer service rep, Rachel Jansen (Mila Kunis), who quickly warms up to Peter and helps him to forget his ills. Of course things can’t go that smoothly for him (otherwise where would the comedy be?), as avoiding Sarah proves to be virtually impossible.
The acting in Forgetting Sarah Marshall is very good and is done by a very talented cast of mostly television actors with a sprinkling of cameos from a few of the Judd Apatow crew (Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader). Mila Kunis (best known for being Jackie in That ’70s Show) is quite obviously the sympathetic sweetheart of the film while Kristen Bell (known for her role as Veronica in Veronica Mars) is clearly the unknowing antagonist. Both equally play their parts well and look absolutely fantastic while doing it. Jason Segel does a great job pulling double duty (aside from acting he also wrote the screenplay). He’s very likable as the “lovable loser” going through great lengths to win our approval (even a hilarious nude scene). Russell Brand, better known for his work across the ocean, is fantastic as the pompous mega-musician Aldous. Every scene he is in is stomach-achingly funny.
I should also note, the word funny is putting things mildly. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is raw, raunchy and explicit – everything you should come to expect from the childish mind of Judd Apatow and his crew of slightly demented merrymen. This means the film isn’t meant for everyone; if you had a problem with Superbad, you’ll definitely want to steer clear of this.
In the end there isn’t much of anything bad to say about Forgetting Sarah Marshall because I enjoyed every minute of it. To relate this all back to the first quote about chocolate – I came into this movie expecting a light chewy caramel but ended up with a dark chocolate that takes its time sweetening up. It’s dark enough to feel real but not too dark to keep you from laughing your ass off during the many hilarious parts in this film. It’s great to see another good Apatow and Co. movie and I hope that the rest of the year treats us with more movies just like this one (that means I’m looking forward to Pineapple Express).