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Apr 23, 2008

Fletch's Film Review: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

You know that post I made a months weeks back where I preemptively declared that "Ellen Page sucks," just so that I'd be ahead of the curve? Let's put it this way - if I put up another that said "Judd Apatow sucks," I'd be about six months behind the pack.

It's funny how overexposure can turn the brightest success stories into major annoyances for some. I'll admit - the usage of the phrase "brought to you by the guys from..." isn't the best way to market a movie, but it's used probably because it works pretty well. Unfortunately, it sets up this scenario where every work is compared to the work that was previously "brought to us" by the same makers.

So, blogs and message boards and SOCIETY IN GENERAL are currently crammed with opinions ranging from "Forgetting Sarah Marshall is worse than X, but better than Y" to "X makes Sarah Marshall look like Beaches."

I realized that for most people (and myself), we aren't sick of Judd Apatow, or of films brought to us in some way, shape or form by Mr. Ubiquitous. No, we're sick of talking about him, and that negativity spreads to the films. It's a shame, really, because each and every one of them (okay, except for Drillbit Taylor) stands far above any other comedy that's been put out in the last three years (short of Hot Fuzz; I'm going off the top of my head here). And let me tell you, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is worlds better than...

But seriously, FSM is a worthy addition to the canon. Jason Segel gives a complete performance in a role that, thanks to his writing the screenplay, feels genuine, even when some of the scenarios the characters are put into smack of sitcom. Russell Brand steals much of the show as lothario rocker Aldous Snow, a welcome surprise as the trailers made his character out to be a paper-thin cliche of rock stars in general. Vets of the Apatow brand show up (Jonah Hill, Bill Hader and Paul Rudd), all with varying degrees of necessity and success. 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer appears as a newlywed bumpkin and steals a few scenes, as does relative newcomer Davon McDonald as a no b.s. bartender. In fact, as much as the movie belongs to Segel and the three other main players (Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis and Brand), the inclusion of the myriad role players helped to push along the plot and up the comedy whenever the film started to lag (it clocks in at a healthy 112 minutes).

So, if you're looking for the next "this" or this year's "that," Sarah Marshall might disappoint. But if you're seeking a raucous comedy filled with fleshed-out characters, it just might make your night. (As a bonus, you'll even get a hilarious Billy Baldwin cameo, and be sure not to bolt when the credits hit for another bonus cameo.)

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"

8 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Forgetting Sarah Marshall"

1minutefilmreview said...

Hey Fletch, we've voted you too!

WaywardJam said...

Hey, I resemble that remark! I've been waiting for this post. Glad you liked it and you're right this is a worthy addition to the Apatow CV.

I see you also did not spoil the big cameo at the end either. When is Apatow going to cast our Mystery Man in a starring role?! I'd buy a ticket today for that movie.

Dave said...

I liked Forgetting Sarah Marshall a lot, but does anyone else here feel like the sex jokes are just immature? I could quite possibly be in teh minority here, but it just was not funny in those parts. The scripting and acting were great.

Tully Moxness said...

I think most of the contrarian pricks who are populating the comment pages of movie blogs like yours are the slightly older idiots who've graduated from the AICN comment basement. I really wonder how many of these people love movies or are just too stubborn to admit the hobby they grew up with has lost its luster. They're like comic book collectors who still dilligently buy their monthly issues out of habit but no longer read them, and even if they do, they derive little or no joy from the experience.

I don't understand how someone can't watch the Apatow films/TV shows and not appreciate the mature skew they take on long overdone genre conventions. I've seen a million bad sex comedies on VHS, DVD and Cinemax, but Apatow gives his films a heart. Even his misfires have something decent to offer the audience.

Fletch said...

@ Wayne - the handling of the cameos (ie the shows within the shows) were brilliant touches. Just the name of Ms. Marshall's crime show is awesome.

@ Dave - it depends on which sex jokes you're referring to. I thought that the 30 Rock kid (who's older than my 31 but looks 12) had some of the funniest lines. Some of it is surely over-the-top, but their success rate (and need for inclusion) is probably 50/50. Personally, I prefer the movies with them included, hit or miss.

@ Tully - I couldn't have said it better myself. Lucky for me, I guess, I've never been a regular visitor (or even sporadic, really) of the "big" movie sites. I do think it goes beyond that, somewhat, though. It's just in som people's nature to be contrarian at some point, and overhyping definitely leads to raised expectations for all these movies. It's impossible to recreate the newness that was the first time (40YOV), and that feeling of "wow, what was that!?" can never really be had again.

Dave said...

Fletch -

Comedies are always so tough because some jokes will be hilarious to one person and don't even seem like jokes to others. That is why they keep trying to mix it up I guess and if it is popular then they stick with it, which would be the case with the sex jokes. The person you referred to was the least funny of all of them in my opinion, but like I said the scripting and others jokes were superb so I still liked the movie a lot. Also, I do prefer movies to be R rated when I see them in theaters because that will help get the obnoxious teenagers out of there.

Pat said...

I saw this last night and loved it.
I thought the sex jokes and weed jokes (which you'd normally expect) were pretty nicely balanced by the real feeling and emotion in other scenes. Very impressed with both Segel's writing and acting. (And I thought Paul Rudd was hilarious.)

Piper said...

Haven't seen this but I want to.

I guess I'm a little over Apatow.

I didn't think Knocked Up was all that and The 40 Year Old Virgin was good but about 30 minutes too long.

Superbad on the other hand was comic gold and Apatow really had nothing to do with that directly.

But as much as I am over Apatow, he has brought comedy back to a level where its worth getting excited for again.