Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

Rated: R for sexual content, language, and graphic nudity.
Grade: BGCD=D
Length: 111 minutes
Budget: $30 million
Box Office: $120 million (63 US, 40 Intl, 17 DVD)

Written by: Jason Segel, with his first script.
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller, with his first movie. So the real name you want to know is…
Produced by: Judd Apatow, Pineapple Express, Superbad, Walk Hard, Talladega Nights, 40 Year Old Virgin, Kicking and Screaming, Anchorman)
Starring: Jason Segel, Kristin Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, and Bill Hader of 30 Rock.

After an unexpected breakup with his celebrity girlfriend, a devastated music writer heads to Hawaii and discovers his ex vacationing with another man. He starts to fall for the hotel employee, and a strange love rectangle begins to develop.

Entertainment Value: B
It’s funny. Not as funny as it could have been, and Paul Rudd wasn’t as hilarious as he’s been elsewhere. Oddly, the funniest person in this movie was Russell Brand, despite his deplorable MTV VMA rant a few weeks ago. Also, Apatow has a real gift for creating real and interesting characters who don’t always do the predictable thing. That’s probably the real foundation of his particular form of moviemaking, sort of an anti-Will Ferrell, if you see what I mean.

Superficial Content: G
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sex/Nudity G, Violence C, Language F, Illegal Activity NA
Here’s a clue, whenever the MPAA says, “graphic nudity,” they’re talking about men. Several times. In addition, there are a variety of overt sex scenes, although I don’t recall there being any actual nudity in any of them, which is unusual. Language is certainly enough to merit an R rating, with 35 F-words according to Kids-in-mind. Violence is some implied fighting and a scene of coral being stuck in a man’s leg and removed. There is a lot of alcohol and drunkenness.

Significant Content: C
When someone breaks your heart, it can be a chance to start over with an even better person. Follow your dreams. Don’t be depressed. Sex is important. Cheating is (mostly) bad. Modern society has turned women into men and men into women.

Artistic/Thought Value: D
The issue here is with superficial content. I’m pretty tolerant of vulgarity, but there were several moments in this movie that I am sure did not need to be there. I’d like to believe that this could have been made PG-13 with a little self control. It’s sort of like a comedian who swears for shock value even though you know he’s actually clever enough to not have to. One of these days Judd Apatow is going to get married and have children, and I hope he starts making more digestible movies when that happens. Well, sadly, I just checked and he is married with two daughters whom he has included in some of his worst movies, so, no luck there.

Discussion Questions:
~In what ways is Sarah Marshall really living out a male set of values? In what ways is Peter living out a female set of values? Consider Rachel and Aldous, and evaluate them on the male-female spectrum.
~Why does this movie only show Peter naked and not any of the women, even though that would be expected in a movie with so many sex scenes?
~In the scene where Sarah tries to outperform Rachel, Aldous refuses and complains about being used. Why would it bother him to be treated as he treats all women?
~When Peter tries to get over Sarah, he does it through meaningless sexual encounters. Why doesn’t this work?
~The newlyweds who have sexual trouble are Christians. What is this film trying to say here? Do Christians ever create problems by implying that if you just wait until marriage all the sexual stuff will just sort itself out perfectly?
~What does the ugly shirt symbolize?
~What do you think of Peter’s act with the photograph? Is that chivalrous? Is there a deeper symbolism for this particular act vis-à-vis the modern culture?
~What makes these characters believable instead of mere caricatures? Why do you think that comedies so often prefer their characters to not be innovative or realistic?
Overall Grade: D
This is Apatow in all his vulgar comedic glory but without many of the deeper (and even pro-life) themes that his other movies have contained. There are things here you can't unsee and will want to.

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