Saturday, August 16, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall ***

Director: Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand
Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Jack McBrayer, Paul Rudd

Peter Bretter (Segel) is an average looking, music composer who happens to be dating hot TV star Sarah Marshall (Bell).
Sarah works in Crime Scene, a CSI type of show where she plays a sexy investigator who must deal with Billy Baldwin's smarmy one liners and later having her life commented by Billy Bush.
Peter watches all this from a distance knowing that despite the fact that he's the guy always hiding behind the spotlights and flashes, when the day is over, he has that woman in his house. Things change when Sarah breaks up with him after she falls in love with British rockstar Aldous Snow (Brand).
Shattered by the breakup, Peter goes on a one night stand frenzy, only to be left feeling emptier. Then, by the suggestion of his stepbrother Bryan (Hader) he takes a vacation to Hawaii, only to realize Sarah is staying in the same resort with her new man.
Following his male pride he decides to stay and face her, seeing the events as a sign from God he has to get over her.
During his stay he meets a colorful array of characters, including stoner surfer Chuck (the reliably scene stealeing Rudd), obsessive waiter Matthew (Hill), southern virgin Darald (a hilarious McBrayer) who's having a hard time satisfying his new wife's sexual needs and beautiful hotel receptionist Rachel (Kunis), with whom Peter sees the opoortunity of falling in love again.
Mixing raunchy humor with more emotional moments this film successfully continues the style that has made Judd Apatow (a producer here) and company so popular.
It seems as if these men are compiling pages of wisdom to aid men in future generations, as they deal with issues most hetreosexual males will go through at one point or another.
What makes their movies work in a way chick flicks never have, is that the things they put in practice are drawn from real life experiences.
While other romantic comedies always seem to rely on the need to blame someone for what goes wrong and assume its characters always need to be with someone else, Apatow's take on relationships infuses them with just about the same amount of romance and cuteness as of pain and melancholy.
Take for example the characters here: in some other movie the fact that this man, who is certainly not the most attractive specimen out there, is dating what is conventionally described as a hot girl, is never the issue they deal with.
We never know why and how they got together and when the time comes for them to break up, the very smart screenplay makes us empathize with both their sides.
Even when Peter calls Sarah "the devil" we know better than to just throw judgment around.
The ensemble makes the film work wonderfully; Segel has just the charisma to pull off some difficult moments and overcome them making us root for him, while Bell is simply delicious, showing us a side of stardom that few actresses would have gone for.
Brand's kind of careless, self parody humor that mocks European values fits perfectly with the rest of the cast's "all American goodness".
But the film's real treasure might lie in its painfully honest, too real to be completely funny screenplay, that even masters the tough art of creating uncomfortable silences in movies.
Some lines coming out of the characters might sound as lines you've said before in the exact same situations, or some, for that matter that you will start using from now on.
And the film only fails when it tries too hard to make its poinst, like a scene where Segel bares it all physically, assuming it will do the same emotionally.
A film that contains such wise words along with hilarious heartbreak should know better than to go and do that.

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