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FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL

SYNOPSIS:
After breaking up with his TV star girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), songwriter Peter (Jason Segel) is devastated; on the urgings of his half brother, Brian (Bill Hader), he takes a Hawaii vacation at Turtle Bay resort. By cruel coincidence, Sarah is taking a break at the same resort ... with her new boyfriend, famous English rock singer, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Peter tries to tough it out as Sarah and Aldous pash on their balcony or smooch over dinner, and is encouraged by Rachel (Mila Kunis) from customer relations. The tropical paradise is more like purgatory for Peter, until Rachel's charms win him over. But by then, Sarah is having second thoughts.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The hero is unheroic and not good looking in the Hollywood mould, the location is exotic and the humour broad, with lots of sex jokes and sex action of the pumping kind. Welcome to another version of Judd Apatow's movie world (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up), where the young male audience can readily identify with the central character and relax in the low brow fun. I have no problem with that, but I do wish this script had more laughs. It gets almost maudlin at times as Peter drowns his sorrows and broken heart in booze and self pity. That's not too funny.

Jason Segel makes his Peter vulnerable in every way, including a couple of nude scenes which are probably funnier at concept stage than in execution. His screen presence is far from macho, and this is what the female audience will be drawn to, while the guys will find him unthreatening. Not so with Aldous (Russell Brand), the ultra cool leader of a rock band who oozes animal appeal and the kind of Pommy accent that lays like a blanket of greasy chips over everything he says.

Kristen Bell's Made in Los Angeles blonde good looks and her character's fame as Sarah Marshall TV star, do little to make her really appealing, which is one of the film's serious flaws. We don't care as much about her romantic future as we should. Peter at least has a puppy dog appeal, although it's hard to believe a gorgeous girl like Rachel (Mila Kunis) finding him the most attractive sexual partner around.... but I am prepared to be corrected.

The screenplay meanders and has little more to say than 'relationship breakdown ahead' and we find ourselves lurching from tropical sideshow to freak show, from tired honeymoon jokes to tired 'rock fan on the make' jokes. There are a few good lines and a few laughs ... and the crowd at my preview screening found even more than I did. Let's hope you can, too.

Review by Louise Keller:
There's a lot to like in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It's a comedy energized by its imperfect and offbeat characters, prompting some wacky situations. It's like a breath of fresh air. Hawaiian air, as Jason Segel's Peter, who is desperately trying to do the forgetting, finds out. There's something convincing about Segel, who makes his feature film writing debut here; the lanky, sensitive and gawky character he has created is endowed with a high percentage of non-self consciousness. It plays like a comedy of errors in which there's a break up followed by an unexpected and uncomfortable meeting, while new partners and new friends complicate matters in outrageous ways.

It is symbolic that Segel's Peter is naked when the eminently celebrated Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) breaks up with him. The trouble is, we don't seem able to care: Sarah is not at all endearing. But Peter is, and we understand his devastation. Everything around him reminds him of her - from the minutiae at home (like the plastic container she gave him in which he keeps his fruit loops) to her larger-than-life presence on television screens everywhere, including at work, where he composes background music with dark tones for her tv show. He cries, gets laid and moans on the shoulder of step brother Brian (Bill Hader, amusing) before heading for a luxury resort in Hawaii, hoping to forget. Yes, Sarah used to talk about it. Of course, the irony of a luxurious tropical paradise filled with lovebirds and honeymooners does not escape us.

Surprisingly, it's the male characters that are the most memorable. There's Russell Brand's outspoken, sex-obsessed English rock star as the wonderfully named Aldous Snow (covered with tattoos and insincerities), Jack McBrayer's hung-up honeymooner overwhelmed by a sexually progressive bride, Jonah Hill as a bumbling waiter trying to flog something (weed or his demo CD) and Paul Rudd, the ultra laid-back surfing instructor. If you hate something, change it, the lovely Rachel (Mila Kunis, charismatic) tells Peter on the idyllic Hawaiian beach one night and change it he does, amid hilarity and angst. I laughed at Peter's original self-loathing song and his Dracula puppet opera is wonderful. Admittedly the film is a little long and has a dip in the middle, but it has that new 'produced by Judd Apatow' feel and enough laughs to find its audience.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (MA)
(US, 2008)

CAST: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Bill Hader, Elizabeth Keener

PRODUCER: Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson

DIRECTOR: Nicholas Stoller

SCRIPT: Jason Segel

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Russ T. Alsobrook

EDITOR: William Kerr

MUSIC: Lyle Workman

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jackson De Govia

RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 17, 2008







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