“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” An Unforgettable Comedy.

R, 112 minutes, Universal Pictures

In a year that has already given us more disappointing comedies than we deserve, I would’ve been satisfied with just a decent outcome with the latest Judd Apatow production, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I didn’t expect great things from the February Will Ferrell release, Semi-Pro, but it certainly didn’t need to be as bland as it was. Even Apatow put out a major dud with Drillbit Taylor, a stale picture that was limited by the PG-13 rating. However, what has made 2008 such a sour year for the comedy to this point, is the unfortunate misfire that was Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. Before seeing these clunkers, my expectations for Forgetting Sarah Marshall were quite high, but I had been put through such a laugh-less wringer after seeing each of those that I simply needed something half-way decent to please me. Luckily, Apatow and Jason Segel, another Freaks and Geeks recruit turned comedy writer/star, have not disappointed. Oh no, this film is anything but a failure. In fact, upon a repeat viewing I’d have to consider this one a terrific comedic achievement that is the best film of its kind since last year’s juggernaut one-two punch that was Knocked Up and Superbad.

As mentioned before, Jason Segel has written this film, placing himself into the starring role of this romantic comedy that truly has something for everyone. He plays Peter, a twenty-something composer who writes music for a hit television series that just so happens to star his girlfriend of 5 1/2 years, the immensely popular Sarah Marshall. There are wonderfully funny spoofs of bad crime television drama in the beginning moments of the film, featuring Kristen Bell (as Sarah) teaming up with Billy Baldwin (in a classic cameo), each spitting out priceless corny one-liners, all while keeping stern facial expressions. Segel does what all good and successful comedy writers should – he makes the role for himself the most painfully embarrassing and clumsy one in the entire film. It doesn’t give anything away to mention that Sarah ditches Peter early on in the film, that should be a given. The break-up sequence here is something distinctive, sparing us from the usual Hollywood predictability, and major kudos are due for Segal to be so brave and to have the insanity to do what he does, which I will not mention. Setting into a deep depression after he learns that Sarah has been seeing someone else, Peter goes against the advice of his best friend (played hilariously by Bill Hader) and sets out on a trip to Hawaii. Once there, he coincidentally chooses the same resort where Sarah is staying, which sparks some really, really humorous moments throughout the remainder of the film.

What transforms this one from a good comedy into a flat-out memorable one is the strong attention Segel gives to each and every supporting character that Peter meets on the island. There are countless characters throughout the film that are both well written and acted out just right, most notably by rather the unknown Russell Brand as pop sensation, Aldous Snow. It is such funny performance that it will certainly go down as one of the best comic breakout roles in recent memory. Familiar Apatow faces show up as should be expected, featuring Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, and the aforementioned Hader, all doing their usual stellar work and clearly having cooperative fun on an Apatow set. Mila Kunis plays the plays the new love interest and eases into the role, meshing well with Segel in well-made scenes, and Kristen Bell surprisingly works as the popularity-starved Marshall. For all the Apatow critics out there who think he can do nothing but go downhill now after last year’s huge success, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is proof enough that he is a legitimate mainstay in today’s comedy. Now all we need is to wait until August, when Pineapple Express can swoop in and kill all thoughts of Apatow slowing.

Initial Review: 9.5/10
After Repeated Viewings: 10/10

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