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Forgetting Sarah Marshall [DVD]

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

By Clint Morris

Different people take different things from Judd Apatow’s movies – unless you haven’t been to the movies since Marty McFly transported back to 1955 you’d know that he’s the comedy genius behind the raunchy-but-real comedy hits “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up”, “Superbad”, and “Walk Hard”, the last two of which he just produced didn’t direct (that’s probably an important point since the directors of “Superbad” and this new one probably do deserve a little bit more credit) – be it a dozen memorable belly laughs, a crush on Seth Rogen (nobody said this was an intelligent analogy), a renewed assurance in modern-day comedies (Apatow has breathed new life into the genre – go rent “Head over Heels” or “Clerks 2” if you don’t believe me) or relief that others out there struggle to hold it together through the nine months lead up to a tot’s arrival down the love chute. I, I take home a cure for a cold. The medicine has worked twice now.

Late last year I arose from a flu-induced coma to drag myself off to see “Superbad” – which advance buzz was tagging ‘the comedy of the year’ (they could’ve been right – if only “Knocked Up” hadn’t come out six months earlier) – only to walk out of the film feeling refreshed and as unsnotty as George Clooney at an Awards show. The nose was dry, the head was clear, the aches and pains had subsided, and the cough- besides an occasional swallow here and there – had taken the 3:10 to Yuma. I don’t know what Judd Apatow had put in that movie, but whatever he did, it didn’t go down well with the bug that was playing Nintendo with my sinuses – and as a consequence, it found another human pinball parlour to conquer (hopefully someone in the theatre next door watching “Wild Hogs” – cos they deserve it more than I do).

It was near exactly the same case with the Apatow-produced “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. Though I was on the tail end of said severe cold this time, the aches and pains that go along with such disturbances were still very much there and the frog in my throat had yet to find a new lily-pad to squat on, so it was a bit of an effort to dust myself off – I sound like a frickin’ wall unit, don’t I? – and travel an hour ‘that way’ to see a movie. But I did. I had to. Judd Apatow has nothing but good for me – not only has he helped me rid of a cold, he’s given me four generally pleasing film experiences over the past couple of years, and considering I’ve only had about 5 of ‘em – generally pleasing film experiences – that says a lot. I owed it to him to attend.

Once again, Apatow did not let me down – I left “Sarah Marshall” with both a smile on my face and, perhaps more importantly, a clear head and a voice that didn’t resemble Demi Moore after she’d just given Ashton his early morning birthday present.

Apatow – and his team – knows exactly what it takes to make a good comedy : You take a pretty straight-forward storyline and you spice it up with imaginative, witty jokes and dialogue; terrific performers and bunions of pop-culture references. Mainly, Apatow’s films work so well because they’re as real as they’re ridiculous – not once can you honestly say that the events of, well, “Knocked Up” or “Sarah Marshall” couldn’t happen, they most certainly could. And as taboo and silly as those mini-events and occurrences within the film may be, Apatow isn’t afraid to put them up there on the screen…. He’s not afraid to go that extra mile for a laugh (like in this film he’s not afraid to resort to cutting to the lead star’s exposed penis for a gag – – – sounds sick, and it is, but it works. Try NOT laughing!) or to remind us of something that ‘we didn’t know others knew about’.

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” has a pretty straight-forward storyline – guy (Jason Segel of ”Knocked Up”) is dumped by his superstar girlfriend (Kristen Bell), guy goes to Hawaii to get over her, guy bumps into girlfriend and her new screw-loose boyfriend (Russell Brand) whilst there, guy ends up falling for local island girl (Mila Kunis of “That 70s Show”) – and in anyone else’s hands, it could’ve easily turned out like any other romantic comedy that follows a similar storyline (like, say, for instance, the recent Farrelly Brothers’ comedy “The Heartbreak Kid” – which blew!) – not especially funny, kinda lazy and as predictable as powder near water. And, to be fair, “Sarah Marshall” does suffer from the common discrepancies in a few spots – it’s a little conventional towards the end, the tone’s a bit messy in a couple of spots, and none of the characters are especially very redeemable.

Having said that, you will laugh your ass off for a good hour of it –if not more – because of the divine performances (everyone in the film is absolutely terrific! – most of the Apatow regulars are here; Segel, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill) and the stupendous writing!

Apatow and his team – Nicholas Stoller directed this one – could probably rework “Another Stakeout” or “The Whole Ten Yards” and make them funny – they’re that good at what they do!

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” isn’t quite of the caliber of “Knocked Up”, it might not even be as consistently funny or memorable as “Superbad”, but it’s still another win for Apatow Productions. Bring on the next, Judd!

Your doctor recommends it.

Extras

There’s still some good stuff on here. There’s a commentary by cast and crew, some amusing B-roll footage, a fantastic (and I don’t use that word loosely!) blooper reel, a music video by Elvis Snow (heh) and some deleted/extended scenes – cut for good reason, but all worth a look. Make sure you get the 2-disc version!

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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.

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