(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Reel Thoughts: Marshall Thrillin'

The Judd Apatow comedy express hit a pothole with Owen Wilson’s Drillbit Taylor, but happily, it’s right back on its filthy, hilarious way with Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Written by and starring Jason Segal, the movie tells the sad sack story of musician Peter Bretter, whose entire life revolves around his TV star girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (the gorgeous Kristen Bell). When Sarah dumps him for vacuous British rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand, in a scene-stealing performance), Peter is inconsolable. Adding to his misery is the fact that he’s still the "composer" for her hilariously lame crime drama. After hitting rock bottom in the dating world, Peter decides to go to Hawaii, only to find that Sarah and Aldous are staying at the same resort. Luckily, at the front desk he meets Rachel (Mila Kunis, miles ahead of her That 70’s Show persona), who is funny, beautiful, down-to-earth and best of all, able to comp him a mega-expensive suite to preserve his dignity.

What follows is the film that Ben Stiller's The Heartbreak Kid should have been, with Peter subjected to all sorts of humiliations on his way to true love (and a Dracula musical starring puppets … don’t ask!), filled with an endless supply of hilarious supporting actors like Jack Brayer (30 Rock), Bill Hader (SNL and Superbad) and especially Paul Rudd. Perhaps they could have ended the parade before adding Jonah Hill, who is wearing out his welcome faster than Jack Black and Carrot Top combined, but that’s just quibbling.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is sharp, surprising, and not afraid to cross "man comedy" boundaries, including an entire break-up scene played with Segal in the nude. Suffice it to say, Segal doesn’t have to worry about shrinkage, even if he’s a shower and not a grower. A lesser man definitely would have shied away from doing the "full monty" (perhaps Segal was just doing a tribute to Julianne Moore’s "carpet matches the drapes" scene in Short Cuts). The film could use tighter editing, but when you’re laughing this hard, who cares? You won’t be forgetting Sarah Marshall anytime soon!

UPDATE: Forgetting Sarah Marshall is now available on DVDfrom

Review by Neil Cohen, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and Phoenix's Echo Magazine.

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