Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a sweet little movie, although some might say that the story is as thin as non-fat milk, which we will get back to later. In short the whole thing evolves around Peter (played by Jason Segel who also has written) who is dumped by his über-cute girlfriend Sarah (Kirsten Bell). Sarah plays the lead in some thirteen-on-the-dozen, but yet very popular, crime TV-show called Crime Scene (which, worth mentioning, includes William Baldwin as the male lead, in what probably is the most fun he has done in years), and thus haunts Peter not only on said TV-show but also showing up on talk shows and what not after the break-up. A break-up that by the way includes full frontal nudity by said Segel. To forget Sarah Peter goes to Hawaii, where he, keep in mind the thin story here, of course not only runs in to, but also shares hotels with, Sarah and her new boyfriend, the British rock singer Aldous Snow, played to the point of perfection, bordering lust-mord on his own character, by Russell Brand. Peter gets even more depressed, but also begins to take on to the sweet, but at the same time cool and independent, receptionist at the hotel, Rachel (Mila Kunis). And from there on it’s mostly pure fun to be honest.
Yes, the story is thin and the events unfolding are a bit sketchy and actually sometimes come out of nowhere with not so much to build on. But what the movie does brilliantly is that it’s aware of this and it doesn’t try to be something it’s not. Instead of trying to create explanations to a story that doesn’t care if it’s thin anyway, it just gallops along with hilarious (and often sweet, mind you) conversations, situations and jokes. Some might say that the level of humour is low and fixated on sex, and therefore too juvenile to take seriously and would only attract the, when it comes to sex, the double moral US audience who hasn’t moved beyond college movies. Saying this would be putting oneself on too high horses though, and looking for something that film is not meant to be. And the jokes are almost all the time weighed up by a sweet touch built in making you liking the characters for some of their ways of being, although they obviously all have their flaws.
The clever thing of making a somewhat thin story and a bit inconsistent characters, and knowing it, is also that you can create extremely funny jokes as you go along without really caring so much why they are made and who delivers them. One fantastic example of this is a weird, unwanted, double date dinner that the two new couples, i.e. Peter and Rachel, and Sarah and Aldous, end up on. Throughout the dinner allegiances change over the table and both support and cutthroat-comments shift, making it a marvellous discussion-mayhem, but all the time within the boundaries of this sweet and likable touch to it. Not least the part where Peter and Aldous finds common ground is a bit heart warming, although there actually hasn’t been that much building up to why they would quite suddenly bond.
As so often when Judd Apatow is involved (he’s producing this one as everyone probably knows) one must not forget some of the funny sidekicks, also so very easy and useful thanks to the way of unfolding a simple story where you just can put in a funny guy (because it is most often the guys that are carrying the stories in Judd Apatows’) without it really having to take the story forward. All the way from Peter’s half brother and his wife trying to give advise via the laptop and Matthew the waiter (played by Judd-favourite Jonah Hill) who is in total awe over Aldous Snow, to the very sweet newly weds with problems in bed and the permanently half-stoned surf instructor and the helpful big-boned Hawaiian waiter.
Segel does good with his average likeable guy, Peter, and the ladies do an alright job with what they have to work with. Not least adding to the fact that they manage to show that they are all both victims and perpetrators in brake-ups and when it comes to finding new loved ones. But the one who steals the show is Brand’s Aldous Snow who evolves from, what you think, plain stupid and self centred, to loveable go-with-the-flow guy that just cracks you up and puts a let’s-just-enjoy-life glow over the whole thing.
To refer to the above mentioned on the guys carrying the story, this might be my only objection. The ladies could have done with some more of the jokes. Especially Bell as Sarah comes out kinda flat in the being funny area. Kunis’ Rachel is given more attitude and some in your face comments that makes you like her even more (if that’s possible since you just have to glance at her to love her, but that’s another story). But all in all there are some scenes that open up for the leading ladies to explore the jokes even more, but without really using that. Or maybe it’s just that you are so busy laughing at Aldous philosophize over this or that, or at Matthew the waiter not really being able to handle that his biggest idol is staying at the hotel, that you don’t notice that there are also other characters being funny at the same time.
How the film ends and how it reaches the end isn’t that important (and even less difficult to guess). This is simply a sweet and very very funny 112 minutes of entertainment. And if you take it as that it’s a 4 out of 5 if you ask me. If you want to judge it from a perspective that it isn’t at all trying to accomplish, maybe you will think it’s juvenile or under your standards. But if that’s what you’re after you probably haven’t laughed or been to a simple, but likeable, comedy in the last ten years anyway, so you probably won’t bother to go to this one either…
/ The Superjudge