I don’t often recommend comedy films for the simple reason that I don’t enjoy most comedies. In particular, I generally haven’t enjoyed most of Judd Apatow’s films– Superbad didn’t make me smile one and I turned off Knocked Up after 30 minutes because I was bored– but his newest release, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, still looked appealing to me. Jason Segel, who wrote and stars in the film, is a scene stealer in CBS’ How I Met Your Mother (and has impressed in other roles), and the idea of exploring how he gets over a big break up seemed appealing. Here’s the film’s premise (courtesy IMDB):
Devastated Peter takes a Hawaii vacation in order to deal with recent break-up with his TV star girlfriend, Sarah. Little does he know Sarah’s traveling to the same resort as her ex … and she’s bringing along her new boyfriend.
Turns out this film was funnier and far more thought-provoking than I expected. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was most impressed by the balanced portrayals of all the various characters. Normally you’d hate Sarah because she’d be portrayed as unreasonable, but she’s shown to be a reasonable person who makes mistakes but has a sympathetic rationale guiding her actions. Her boyfriend steals every scene he’s in, with some of the funniest music I can remember in any film I’ve seen. Even Peter, naked (literally) and wallowing in his own self-pity, should be the kind of character who annoys me, but he’s also another nuanced character in his own right. I credit both the actors and the script for making every character– from the main characters to some of the throwaways– completely likable in their own way.
The film tells a thoroughly comparing story that eschews the cliches of most romantic comedies. No one schemes incessantly and there’s no silly misunderstandings. The people talk, act and communicate like real people. It’s also one of the few films where I felt like the characters really cared about each other and had reasons to be attracted to each other beyond those of the physical nature. While this is a Rated R film and there is a lot of sex humor, it never feels sophomoric or immature– it’s a very mature look at relationships in our lives. Plus, I can’t stress this enough, it’s actually quite a funny film because it so effortlessly– and accurately– deconstructs the absurdity of our lives, the choices we make and the things we do.
Bottom line, see Forgetting Sarah Marshall. You’ll leave with a smile on your face and a desire to see it again because you’ll know you laughed so hard that you probably missed some of the jokes.
Finally, here’s a clip from the film that’ll give you an idea of the humor: