I never saw this one coming. Sure, I knew what it was and I went in hoping for the best, but never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that this film would have been as funny as it is. One look at the trailer and you know everything you think you need to know. It’s effectively an old-school '80s comedy: nerdy guy gets dumped by his TV star girlfriend and ends up at a tropical resort where she and her new beau, a moronic English rock star, are vacationing. Enter the new love interest. Insert raunchy joke. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Right?
Wrong. To say that this is the funniest movie I’ve seen this year does it a disservice. It is the funniest movie I’ve seen since Superbad, and actually, I’m pretty convinced it was actually funnier than that. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is an uproarious, sidesplitting comedy that will have you laughing so hard that you will miss the next joke or bit of dialogue. There’s no avoiding that. The audience reaction was almost deafening. And it has all the makings of a modern comedy classic -- a stand-on-your-feet-and-cheer comedy that fires on all cylinders from beginning to end.
Is it raunchy? Oh yeah. Very. But oddly enough, it is raunchy in a very realistic way. This isn’t filled with needless excuses to show women topless (or like Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, bottomless). In fact, it’s a film full of male nudity. Hell, at this point I’m pretty sure I could draw writer and star Jason Segel’s (How I Met your Mother, Knocked Up) member from memory alone. And as unpleasant as that may sound, each time we catch him naked is pretty damned funny. But the comedy isn’t quite over the top. It’s actually fairly grounded -- more about laughing at those stupid, quiet, humiliating moments we all share than it is about putting the hero in ridiculous situations. Filled with lovable, silly, but very human characters, Forgetting Sarah Marshall gets its laughs from its wit and wry humor rather than token gags and fart jokes.
But what works best about it is its heart. At its core, this is a film about how hard it is to break up and find yourself again. And when it completely unfolds, and each character is laid bare, you realize that it isn’t a film about two-dimensional characters thrown on a tropical island for comedic effect. It's about how a relationship can fail on both sides and what it takes to learn and grow from the failure of that relationship. Everyone is complicit in the demise of each relationship and the film takes the time and care to spell that out. While it is equally busy making you laugh your ass off.
Jason Segel is a talent to be reckoned with, a new emerging comedy voice who was both equally fantastic as the romantic/comic lead as he was as the film's screenwriter. Likewise, first-time director Nicholas Stoller proved that he made the right transition from his own writing career and displayed his talent for getting into a joke and getting out before it ever got old. The comedy is so fast and furious in this that not a single joke is left to linger, not a single moment feels wasted.
The film also proves to be a star-making vehicle for both Kristin Bell (Veronica Mars) and Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show). I wasn’t a fan of either of these girls going in, having not been a fan of either of their television shows. But by the time the credits rolled I was in love with both. Not only are both incredibly beautiful, but this film is complicated enough to let them be more than just pretty faces and allows for a wide range of emotion and comic delivery. As much as Sarah Marshall (Bell) is somewhat of an antagonist in the film, by the end you really feel for her and her situation. Kunis, on the other hand, while getting seemingly less to do, really shines and is allowed to shed the bitchy, self-absorbed, bubble headed character she became famous for and plays a very sweet, adorable and vulnerable love interest. Expect to hear a lot more out of these girls once this movie finally breaks.
It would not surprise me if this turned out to be the funniest film of the year, and if every other comedy to come out proved to be half as funny as this then we should consider ourselves very, very lucky.
C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me
Want a less glowing audio take? Brad and Laremy discuss Sarah Marshall for five good minutes below: