Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Review by Matthew Frendo

Let me start by saying that this is not only my favorite film of the year, but one of my all time faves (a rare feat for a movie so recently released).  Notice that I didn't say it was the best film of the year (that honor goes to Vicky Cristina Barcelona…but who can really go up against Woody Allen?), but I thought it was awesome.

I've seen this film 2 ½ times so far (had to leave in the middle once after a phone call regarding an apartment problem…I was PISSED), and it just gets funnier the more it's seen.  Jason Segel was not only the star, but the writer for Forgetting Sarah Marshall.   You may know him from TV's How I Met Your Mother, Knocked Up, or, if you're really smart, you know him from the incredible Freaks and Geeks (my favorite TV show of all time).  I'm going to benefit you all now with the history of the crew, since it's an important modern Hollywood team (and where else can I dispense all this impressive, yet otherwise useless, knowledge).  The show was produced by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40-Year Old Virgin), and starred Jason Segel, Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Pineapple Express), James Franco (Spiderman, Pineapple Express), and Linda Cardellini (Scooby Doo, Grandma's Boy).  The show basically had the currently biggest comedic names in Hollywood years before they were anything. 

Sarah Marshall has the same kind of feel as the films mentioned above, with the heart inherent in Freaks and Geeks that is somewhat missing from the group's current output (the one exception being Knocked Up).  And that's what makes this film so great: it's not the comedy (which is damn funny), it's not the great acting by the entire cast, or even if it has two of the prettiest and coolest actresses in Hollywood (Kristen Bell from Veronica Mars, and Mila Kunis from That 70's Show)…it has all these things, yet what makes it wonderful is the heart.  You can tell that Jason Segel put some serious thought, and, more importantly, feeling into what he made with this film.  The love for the film, by the entire cast, can be experienced with a simple viewing.  It's awesome.

As for specifics, the two wonderful lady actresses mentioned above are great in their roles.  Kristen Bell plays the Hollywood TV actress to a perfection not fully appreciated as of yet.  Most actresses who play actresses in a movie go one of two ways: they try to be extremely glamorous, or extremely bitchy.  She does neither.  She plays the title role with a nuance of slight pretension mixed with hidden vulnerability.  It's a character you like, even if you're not sure why.  Mila Kunis plays the Hawaiian somewhat-native (she had moved there a few years before) with the same nuance, albeit for a different character.  She stays in Hawaii because she loves the freedom, yet doesn't quite want to admit that she's at least partly there to escape responsibility, which is something she has to face in herself.  And these characters are perfect examples of what makes this film great: they're complicated, not-at-all-perfect, and real.

As far as the male cast, Jason Segel is always funny, and here he plays the dumped-and-unable-to-cope-with-it boyfriend with great comedic aplomb.  You can feel his pain, and at the same time, cringe with some of his actions.  I give him kudos for having a set on him as well…I mean, I wouldn't want to do full frontal nudity for a laugh (okay, okay…I probably would).  Russell Brand is probably the breakout star of the movie as rock star Aldous Snow.  I haven't seen him in anything else, but here he is amazingly funny (I'm literally laughing out loud thinking of the shirt scene…see it and you'll know).

Overall, a perfect movie with a perfect cast done by one of the great, yet underrated comedic talents currently in Hollywood.  Even the Dracula-musical numbers are written to a perfection that made me wish the play within the film was real.  In fact, I've changed my mind…this is the best film of the year (sorry Woody), as well as my favorite.  Go see it.  You know you want to…

5 / 5 stars

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