|Directed by:||Nicholas Stoller|
|Written by:||Jason Segel, Judd Apatow|
|Cast:||Jason Segal, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd|
After embarking upon uncanny success in The 40-Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad, there’s no doubt in my mind that when one thinks of surefire comedy in today’s cinema, one may as well easily connote to the Apatow troupe. With their unprecedented ability to craft completely natural, believable, and utterly relatable and realistic characters and situations as they have done since their humble beginnings on the short-lived television series “Freaks and Geeks”, it appears as if all Judd Apatow and his team want to do, rather than grossing us out or spoofing major elements of pop culture, is to show us the simple hilarities we experience in our own lives, be it through social insecurities, tumultuous relationships or unexpected pregnancies.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall depicts the arduous, albeit totally universal pain and agony of ending a long-term relationship. Of course, this simple little plot can only lead to plenty of grand comedic payoffs, which it does, but never does the film’s plot feel exploited or forced in any possible way. Impressively, the film’s writer and star Jason Segel has managed to craft a wonderfully three-dimensional screenplay, honed by his personal experiences in relationships gone awry and his own struggles in frequently getting dumped. With that in mind, through his depiction of Peter, the droopy, confused, self-loathing, and helplessly heartbroken protagonist of the film, one can fairly say that Segel may as well be making fun of himself. But there lies the central gist of it all, which is within the fact that being dumped and having your heart torn to shreds can never be over-dramatized because that is exactly the way we perceive it within ourselves. After all, how can we not think of the mellow dramatic image of Peter, heartbroken, secluding within his messy apartment, sobbing uncontrollably in front of the television with a gargantuan bowl of cereal and not feel utmost sympathy?
Unfortunately, Peter’s initial heartbreak becomes only the beginning. After hoping to find solace within a lush tropic resort in Hawaii, he only finds his ex-girlfriend, a famous T.V star by the name of Sarah Marshall, staying the same resort with her new boyfriend, and what ensues from their can only be considered as pure comedic gold. From encounters with askew hotel residents and employees to some of the most painfully awkward and downright hilarious predicaments I guy can ever be placed in, the film definitely knows and understands what it can utilize from its setting both in terms of its humor and its characters, especially during a scene in which Peter and his new love interest, a hotel clerk by the name of Rachel, run into and soon have the most awkward dinner imaginable with Sarah and her new boyfriend at the resort’s restaurant. The dialogue, deliverance, and timing of this scene and plenty of others is all is so pitch perfect, it soon feels as if we are simply eavesdropping on these very believable characters.
And yet along with the fun romp that ensues, Segel also impressively creates admirable layers of character development within his script. Peter running into the pain he tried to escape from, while at first serving as pure comedic relief, eventually truly develops into an evolution of character and even manages to open up the emotions and a few revelation of other characters, including Sarah Marshall and her way of coping for the relationship she ended and the character of Rachel, Peter’s newfound love interest. This of course brings out a few surprises in the acting areas. Segel truly and greatly carries the film with seemingly tremendous ease, Kristen Bell is razor sharp as Sarah Marshall and yet also manages to earn our sympathy as well, Russell Brand is undeniably the genuine scene stealer with his wild charisma and Casanova character, and, the true stunner, Mila Kunis in a very surprising turn as Rachel. If it weren’t for Kunis’ ability to perfectly and naturally balance her character’s charm and humor with her more dramatic capabilities, then the character of Rachel would have easily fallen completely flat and would have instead degraded into the shadows of a Natalie Portman in Garden State or a Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown.
In all, Forgetting Sarah Marshall can arguably be considered as the Apatow crew’s best and most mature effort to date. Everyone is natural and believable, the plot unfolds both humorously and poignantly, and above all it works as a perfect culmination of all that has made the Apatow crew’s brand of comedy so undeniably genial and successful.