Universal Pictures’ eye-catching campaign for Forgetting Sarah Marshall
, the latest raunchy comedy from the Judd Apatow pack, features a series of plain white posters sporting bold declarative statements such as “My Mother Always Hated You Sarah Marshall,” "You Suck Sarah Marshall," and the lowest blow of all - "You Do Look Fat in Those Jeans, Sarah Marshall." And, as the folks at Universal counted on when dreaming up the marketing scheme, it makes those who’ve never heard of Forgetting Sarah Marshall
wonder who is this woman and why does someone hate her enough to take out major ads declaring their feelings.
The unusual outdoor campaign also makes you feel sorry for real Sarah Marshalls everywhere, and for the fictional Sarah Marshall of the film in particular. The catchy billboards are promoting what’s sure to be another hit in the line of projects sprouting from the creative minds of members of Judd Apatow’s gang. A cut above Superbad
(produced by Apatow) and just below Knocked Up
and The 40 Year Old Virgin
(written/directed by Apatow) on the funny meter, Forgetting Sarah Marshall
is similar in its sweetness level to both Knocked Up
. Amidst full frontal male nudity, penis jokes, and sex, there’s the touching tale of a relationship that’s over and a couple sort of moving on. Written by and starring Jason Segel (an Apatow vet from the days of Freaks and Geeks
), Forgetting Sarah Marshall
is, as of April, the funniest movie of 2008.
Peter Bretter composes background mood-setting music for the TV series Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime, while dreaming of the day he can complete and make public his Dracula puppet musical. Or at least that’s how he spent his time prior to his girlfriend, series star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), dumping him. Now he’s a sad shell of a man, going through the motions of sex with random strangers and unable to work up the energy to do his job because Sarah’s constantly on his mind.
Kristen Bell and Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.© Universal Pictures
His brother (Bill Hader), trying to be helpful, convinces him the only way to recover is to unwind and relax by taking a vacation in Hawaii. Peter agrees and flies off to the land of bikini-clad babes to heal his wounds. There, while making small talk with Rachel (Mila Kunis) - the cutie behind the counter at the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore - Peter discovers he’s randomly chosen the same hotel as his ex. Sarah’s also picked Turtle Bay as her vacation spot of choice and is there with her new British rock star boyfriend, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), a man dripping with sexual energy. Sarah, of course, believes Peter’s only there to check up on her.
After a crying bout to rival any newborn’s, Peter tries to suck it up by sucking down mai tais and mixing with the locals. But no matter where he turns, Sarah and Aldous are there. Getting over Sarah isn’t easy when he can’t seem to get away from her.
You’ve got to wonder about the sanity of a man who writes a role for himself in which he starts off with a break-up scene featuring himself totally naked and proceeds to feature his character in numerous unmanly crying jags. Jason Segel’s kind of like a younger, R-rated Tom Hanks in that he’s got that same every guy quality: he doesn’t fit into the stereotypical leading man handsomeness niche, and he’s extremely relatable to both sexes. Segel is terrific and vulnerable and absolutely hilarious in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, even when he’s fully clothed, and his script is sharp and smart.
The film’s two female leads – Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis – aren’t just pretty faces and this isn’t your typical romantic comedy in that the ex isn’t a bad person. Bell’s Sarah explains why she broke it off with Peter, and even though we’re rooting for Peter, Sarah’s reasons for ending their relationship are completely understandable. Sarah turns out to be not just a TV star who's moving on just so she can have someone who’d be a little more showy on her arm at premieres than the goofy looking guy who composes scores. And Bell shows she’s a good sport about things by taking part in a scene that clearly skewers her most recent film – Pulse
. Kunis plays the rebound chick with a lot of warmth and energy, and shows she’s able to make the transition from That '70s Show
humor to a big screen comedy without a hitch.
Past Apatow players Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, and Bill Hader contribute their considerable comic talents in smaller roles. And 30 Rock standout Jack McBrayer is perfect as a newlywed who’s not into the kind of sex his wife is begging for. But the guy to watch for, the standout and potential breakout star from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, is Russell Brand. Brits already know all about this wild man, but now American audiences are going to discover what all the fuss on the other side of the pond has been about. As black leather-clad smoldering rock star Aldous Snow, Brand ups the comedy ante and is destined to emerge from Apatow’s pack as the next big thing. His character Aldous Snow deserves his own spin-off, and if it’s not already in the works, it should be.
Mila Kunis and Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.© Universal Pictures
The Bottom Line
Writer Segel and first-time feature film director Nicholas Stoller really tapped into the hurt male psyche and deliver a film easily up to the R-rated standards set by 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. The story doesn’t take too many predictable turns (unlike most movies in the rom com genre) and there’s a genuineness and realism to the way these characters handle relationships. Getting dumped isn’t fun, but Forgetting Sarah Marshall takes the most uncomfortable parts of break-ups (you can sense the guys behind the scenes were writing from experience) and exaggerates them into inspired comedy bits. Plus there's the added bonus of a hilarious Dracula puppet musical included in the mix.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall was directed by Nicholas Stoller and is rated R for sexual content, language and some graphic nudity.
Theatrical Release Date: April 18, 2008