Forgetting Sarah Marshall

The Real Heartbreak Kid


When your significant other begins a sentence with the phrase “we need to talk,” or “look, you know I love you but,” or any derivation thereof, not only is it code that a breakup is in your near future, but unlike Jason Segel’s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it’s probably best if you’re fully dressed.

Although his girlfriend of five and a half years, Sarah Marshall (Kristin Bell), the TV star on a sexy crime scene show, pleas with him to pick up his post-shower towel or go get dressed, the devastated Peter Bretter (Segel) pitifully rationalizes that if he were to put on clothes then the whole situation would become real and it’s over. Unfortunately it turns out that Sarah’s resolution to end their relationship doesn’t necessarily follow Peter’s impromptu rules (that we can all relate to when trying desperately to hold onto something like a kid in a toy store) and soon enough he’s good and dumped.

A struggling musician, Peter is now unable to continue providing the score to Sarah’s show with zero melody and a preference for “just dark, ominous tones” without attacking the studio screen in anguish fearing that she’s traded up for an affair with her handsome costar Billy Baldwin. Soon Peter seeks gender stereotypical comfort by engaging in meaningless one night stands with whatever freaky skank will take him home. After the first one ends in tears — Peter’s tears, that is — Peter rushes to his pediatrician out of fear that he’s been given a disease. And although he doesn’t quit trying to forget Sarah in the arms of strangers, eventually he retreats into a depression of listening to Sinead O’Conner’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” in a grimy apartment, trying to burn everything that reminds him of her, and refusing to delete all of the photos of his ex stored on his computer. Now figuratively at rock bottom after a much needed intervention by his best friend, soon Peter takes his friend’s advice to get the hell out of Dodge.

However, instead of hitting Vegas or some other dark place where you can hide in corners and forget, Peter decides to visit the most romantic vacation spot on Earth, journeying to Hawaii to the exact same location that Sarah always talked about. Of course, this being a comedy from the Apatow gang, sure enough, Sarah is there as well, vacationing with her new lover, an obnoxious, self-involved, tattooed, British rock star named Aldous (Russell Brand). Seven years sober and prone to giving odd lectures about his right to basically screw anything that moves, Aldous is the anti-Peter who unlike our sad-sack hero, would never have withstood a relationship with Sarah’s emasculating diva demands of holding her purse at awards shows or stepping out of photos on the red carpet.

Of course, just like in the thematically similar Farrelly Brothers remake of Elaine May’s classic The Heartbreak Kid (based on Neil Simon’s script), sure enough Peter realizes that the woman he’d assumed was of his dreams, was in fact his nightmare when he encounters a new woman of his dreams, this time in the form of carefree, supportive, and endlessly cheery hotel employee named Rachel (Mila Kunis).

Although as an island and complete with Sarah and Peter staying at the exact same resort, Hawaii isn’t big enough for the both of them as their plans overlap and they find themselves on awkward double dates, strange confrontations that lead to increasingly bizarre and embarrassing sight gags as Peter realizes he underestimated how hard it was to go about forgetting Sarah Marshall.

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Featuring likable cameos by additional members of the Apatow gang like the hilariously underrated Paul Rudd as a forgetful surf instructor and Jonah Hill as an aspiring musician, the film, directed by Nicholas Stoller, written by its star Jason Segel and produced by Judd Apatow and Shauna Robertson makes its way to DVD in a multitude of formats on Tuesday, September 30. Available in Blu-ray, the standard theatrical edition DVD, or as part of a seven-disc Unrated Comedy Collection that also includes The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, the three-disc unrated collector’s edition DVD that I explored is filled with uproarious extras including more than two hours of deleted and extended scenes, gag reels, bonus featurettes, hilarious montages, behind the scenes clips with the cast and crew, an episode of Cinemax Final Cut: Forgetting Sarah Marshall, raw footage, filmmaker commentary as well as a bonus digital copy of the film that conveniently downloads to your PC, Mac, or iPod within minutes.

Infinitely more hilarious than the downright offensive and anti-feminist yet thematically similar The Heartbreak Kid (famously featured as one of the worst films of 2007 in Top Ten Lists by some prominent critics) Sarah Marshall has a bit more heart than most gross-out rom-coms post-There’s Something About Mary (incidentally also made by the Farrelly Brothers). And while we instinctively side with Segel, the overly long conclusion and finale involving a Dracula rock opera starring puppets may have been a much funnier joke on paper than it was on film and twenty minutes could’ve easily been edited out of the nearly two hour film.

Yet despite this and the fact that by now I’ve begun growing weary of the overused formula served up by the frat pack, post-Mary comedies where 99% of the jokes derive below the waist, it’s the supporting players that eventually make the film work. These include Russell Brand’s scene-stealing Aldous, who manages to garner laughs even before he opens his mouth, the ever-reliable Paul Rudd, as well as 30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer as a devoutly religious newlywed who’s struggling to fulfill his sexual duties as a new husband. Kunis is adorable and makes a terrific foil to Bell’s Sarah, who actually legitimately gains some sympathy throughout as opposed to simply lampooning her like the wife character in Heartbreak Kid.

And while on the level of laughs per scene ratio it still doesn’t touch The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, it beats the hell out of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (despite John C. Reilly’s hilarious Golden Globe nominated performance). Sure to be a comedy with lines you’ll find impossible to forget, Stoller and Segel’s Forgetting Sarah Marshall never fails to entertain in whatever version you decide to bring home.