Monday, April 21, 2008

At the movies: Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Because the job description says "TV critic," and because I have a kid and therefore don't get out as much as I used to, I very rarely write about current movies on the blog. But given my obsessions with both the works of Judd Apatow and "How I Met Your Mother," did you think there was any way I would miss the opening weekend of the Apatow-produced, Jason Segel-starring (and written by) "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"?

In keeping with the blog's concept of reviewing things for people who have already seen them, after the jump I'm going to get more specific with the spoilers than you'd find in your average day-of-release review. So if you haven't seen it yet, don't click through. The short, unspoilered version: While it could have stood more work in the editing room and the central romance is thin at best, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" made me laugh until it hurt, and I might rank it second among the core Apatow movies, behind "40-Year-Old Virgin" but ahead of "Knocked Up" and "Superbad."

Spoilers coming up just as soon as I give someone a copy of my demo...

On "How I Met Your Mother," Jason Segel plays a happy, well-adjusted guy who's madly in love with the woman who's madly in love with him. If you'd only ever seen Segel on "HIMYM," you might be shocked by the role and movie Segel has written for himself with "Sarah Marshall." If, however, you've been paying attention to everything else the guy has done in his career -- particularly in conjunction with Apatow -- than the fear and self-loathing of "Sarah Marshall" just feels like an extension of parts he's been playing for years.

On "Freaks and Geeks," he was Nick, the dope-smoking drummer with a knack for smothering the current girl of his dreams. (His spectacularly one-sided romance with Linda Cardellini's Lindsay was so squirmy that Apatow once joked it was the reason the show got canceled.) With "Undeclared," Fox wouldn't let Apatow cast Segel as the hero, so instead he got to play the clingy, pathetic boyfriend of the girl the hero was in love with. In "Knocked Up," he didn't have a girlfriend but made himself unusually, uncomfortably available to Katherine Heigl's married sister. (He also, for added creepy factor, declared "Gynecology is only a hobby for me.")

So, having spent years honing this persona as the guy whose love makes women uncomfortable, it seems only natural that Segel would write a movie-length variation on that theme, one that plays up his fearlessness about exposing both his body and his emotions, one that, at times, made me want to cover my eyes and ears as much as I did when Nick serenaded Lindsay to the sounds of Styx's "Lady."

Speaking of Segel exposing his body, this is the point of the review where I'm contractually obligated to discuss Jason Segel's penis. To do it is by now a cliche, but you can't discuss the movie without discussing the penis.

Seeing the movie in a packed Friday night theater reminded me of the limitations of even the mighty entertainment media hype machine. Again, nearly every story written about this movie has, usually right up top, discussed the appearance -- and, in some cases, length and girth -- of Segel's member, and yet when that towel fell during the break-up scene, the gasps I heard throughout that theater suggested that a lot of people had no idea when they woke up that morning that they were going to see an uncovered wang before they went to bed. I certainly wish that the parents who brought what looked like nine-year-old boy and a four-year-old girl had learned of this key fact in advance, but if they couldn't afford a babysitter, I'm guessing they viewed Entertainment Weekly as an extravagance as well. (For the record, no one left the theater at any point of the movie, so those kids just got a few semesters of sex ed in one night.)

Personally, I wish I had been as surprised as that family of four, because so much of what's funny in that break-up scene is the surprise of Segel being unashamedly naked throughout it. If you go in knowing there's going to be a penis on the screen, the penis by itself isn't inherently funny.

What is inherently funny, however, is people having bad sex, and there's an awful lot of bad sex in this movie. The high point of the bad lovemaking comes in the subplot with Jack McBrayer as a virginal newlywed (particularly when he starts getting love lessons from Aldous), but I also loved Carla Gallo (Segel's "Undeclared" girlfriend) as the "Hi" girl (and Peter's realization that he did, in fact, want to gag her) and Aldous' horrified reaction to the idea that some woman might be faking her orgasm with him. (Hate to break it to you, buddy, but I'm sure that wasn't the first time.)

I mentioned McBrayer, who's had small roles in a few previous Apatow-produced movies and deserves to graduate to a full-fledged member of his traveling repertory company after this one. Yes, it's just him doing a variation on Kenneth from "30 Rock," but if Jonah Hill can give the exact same performance in every Apatow film, why can't McBrayer? (Hill, by the way, is quite funny here, in part because he's used sparingly. The second half of "Superbad" -- the non-McLovin portions, anyway -- ran into trouble because they asked Hill to do too much and he starts to grate after a while.) Paul Rudd and, especially, Bill Hader, also earned their paychecks for their obligatory appearances -- for a guy who signed on to "SNL" as an impressionist, Hader's surprisingly great at finding funny ways to play very normal parts -- and as Aldous the rock god, Russell Brand is beyond brilliant. Segel's script gives Aldous a few moments of self-awareness and/or decency (he likes Peter's music, and he doesn't mind having to wait for a table at the restaurant), but Brand goes beyond that in making the guy oddly likable. In the hands of most actors, Aldous would be a complete d-bag; Brand finds the goofy, overgrown kid in him.

That generosity of character applies to almost everybody, from small characters like the waiter who beats up Peter by night but acts cool with him by day to bigger people like the title character. Again, the easy route is to make Sarah herself a complete bitch who didn't deserve Peter, and while her behavior isn't always exemplary (she's been cheating on him forever, she invites herself along to dinner with Peter and later tries to seduce him), she's not an awful human being, and we're told in no uncertain terms that she was right to want out of her relationship with Peter.

I just wish that, while Segel was going out of his way to give Sarah three dimensions, he also gave Kristen Bell something funny to do. Mila Kunis, too. Kunis is a much warmer, likable presence than I ever found her on "That '70s Show" (she and Rachel Bilson have kind of become the same person over time), but the script is too fuzzy on why Rachel falls for Peter and, particularly, why he falls for her over all the other women who failed to help salve the pain of the break-up.

Because the relationship Peter is getting into is less three-dimensional than the one he's getting out of, "Sarah Marshall" gets weaker towards the end. The movie's nearly two hours long, which isn't automatically a terrible idea for a comedy, but which would be a lot more palatable if it built to a bigger ending. There's no grand gesture (though Peter does get himself beat up to retrieve the bathroom photo), and even the comic set piece of Peter's rock opera isn't as big and ridiculous as I might have hoped. The ending's... nice, I suppose, but far from the most memorable part.

(The editing overall is kind of wonky. The movie's long -- much as I enjoyed the bits of business with the different hotel staffers, we could have stood to cut some of them -- and yet several bits seem to end at least 5 or 10 seconds sooner than they should. The end of the scene with the pig, for instance, felt too abrupt, and also didn't leave enough room for anyone to breathe so we could hear the jokes in the next scene.)

But as I've said often, funny forgives a lot, and I haven't laughed this much at a movie since... probably the first half of "Superbad," in fact.

A couple of random notes:
  • Loved Billy Baldwin lampooning David Caruso, and the overall mockery of the "CSI" shows and how much they get away with in terms of sex and violence. And have you seen NBC's official site for "Crime Scene"?
  • She wasn't in the credits, but I could have sworn I saw/heard Stephanie D'Abruzzo from "Avenue Q" as the female puppeteer at the end. Am I going nuts?

What did everybody else think?

38 comments:

sjml said...

I'm pretty sure that was Stephanie, but yeah, she's not on IMDb. Looked a lot like her, too...

j said...

I totally enjoyed this one. Despite the full-frontal I didn't think it was quite as dirty as, say, Superbad, or even Knocked Up; I think because there were fewer guys-hanging-out-being-guys scenes. I loved the Dracula bit at the end; I thought it was big enough. I know the guy always has to get the girl, but I would have been ok with it if he never saw Rachel again; she was right when she said he shouldn't be with anyone right now. I would have been ok with his triumph being getting off the couch and getting the Dracula musical together. Those puppets were so, so cool. Also: Paul Rudd's delivery of "when life hands you lemons, f*** the lemons" was the funniest thing I've seen all year.

Also, I've been re-reading your Freaks and Geeks reviews and finally caved and bought the DVD set - I figure, I end up renting it every year anyway. Great reviews, Alan. Thanks.

Scott Tobias said...

As long as we're getting spoiler-y (and warning to those who haven't seen FSM, SPOILERS AHOY), were you as bothered as I was by Segel's last, um, encounter with Kristen Bell in this movie? This movie seemed unusually and gratifyingly generous to all of its characters, but the manner in which Segel realizes that he's over Bell really puts her in an ugly place. At that point in the movie, I think we could forgive her a little for not getting what she needed out of her relationship with Segel, who took her for granted and once spent an entire week in his sweats. And yet Segel's inability to get aroused in her presence validates his feelings for another woman while making Bell look desperate and whorish. Am I reading this scene wrong or was anyone else similarly put-off?

Devin McCullen said...

I don't know, the fact that he takes so long to realize what's going on doesn't reflect too well on him either.

On the ending - I thought it worked, because it fit with the vibe of the whole movie. There really isn't much of a plot to it, as much as a bunch of stuff happens. It's never building to anything, and I think that's part of the charm.

I do wonder what the big deal was about Aldous not drinking; maybe there's some deleted scenes.

BTW, on a baseball forum I hang out at, somebody linked to the "Crime Scene" page a few weeks ago, complaining about how low NBC was sinking. People did eventually figure it out. (I was busy at the time.)

Joe Reid said...

Scott: I was exactly as bothered with that scene, and it was probably my biggest problem with the movie. That and the fact that we're supposed to think Sarah was a bitch for not liking the Dracula musical-in-progress, when even Peter later admits it was totally shitty until he realized it was supposed to be a comedy. (And even then, I agree, it wasn't as funny as it could have been).

bill p said...

I didn't like McBrayer's "subplot" at all, way too broad for me. The stuff with the chess pieces was the lowpoint for this movie. (And I love Kenneth.) I also never need to hear him curse.

I did like the scene where Segel cries while playing the Muppet Show theme. Seemed very real to me for some reason.

Matt said...

I'm probably biased because I am a huge Jason Segal fan but I loved it. I cracked up for most of the movie and especially loved Russell Brand. I'm not as down on Jonah Hill as some and I didn't see how McBrayer's character really fit in with the rest of the movie but they were so funny that I didn't care too much about it. I don't think I need to say much else about Paul Rudd. He's just great.

Like most other Apatow comedies, it's probably going to be even funnier when I can watch on DVD at my house and not when there is a theater full of people (and I went to the midnight show on Saturday!) laughing too long and covering up some of the secondary lines.

Anonymous said...

Assuming the penis was not erect, do you really think it's that harmful for kids to see? I obviously haven't seen the movie, but I am pretty sure there's much worse stuff for kids to see/hear in that movie than the flaccid penis of a man who just got out of the shower.

That First Andrew said...

It felt about 20 minutes too long, and they could definitely have cut out one or two of the "Befriending the Hotel Employee" subplots (seriously, Were there only like those six guests at the hotel?), but I thought it was a fantastically funny movie that earned a lot of good will, in that it portrayed the Peter/Sarah relationship as something that just didn't work, as opposed to something that was someone's fault.

I even give credit to Mila Kunis's character. I didn't buy that she would be interested in Peter, until we met her ex, who was such an anti-Peter that I could see how she would find appeal in a nice, honest, emotionally available guy. Especially after being cheated on, she would feel a certain bond with Peter, who was stuck watching Sarah and Aldous. At first it was pity, but he was such a change from her last guy, that I totally bought she would fall for him. And it also explained the hurt she felt when he got back with Sarah, even though they had oinly known each other for three days. He was the Sam Weir to her Cindy Sanders, only low maintenance.

I will put down money that says there is a deleted scene where Jonah Hill served Aldous wine at that dinner after he said he never listened to the demo. They made to much of a point about him ordering cranberry juice, and then nothing ever came of it. I even noticed Aldous reacting a bit as he sipped at it.

I wonder if Segal got the idea for all the little flashbacks from working on HIMYM? I keep smiling when I think of his Gandalf impression...

dez said...

What's wrong with kids seeing an erection? Unless it's up close and about to poke them in the eye? Seriously, it's just an appendage.

but the script is too fuzzy on why Rachel falls for Peter and, particularly, why he falls for her over all the other women who failed to help salve the pain of the break-up.

The other women were merely "meaningless sex" for him, and it turns out that meaningless sex is not something Peter's good at. I think he fell for her because she was her own person and because she kept him at arm's length for most of the time she knew him. I do agree that why she falls for him is a little fuzzier; the fanwank is...because he's Jason Segel and he rules!

I thought the movie was hilarious and sweet, and Russell Brand, Paul Rudd and Bill Hader steal every scene they're in. As does McBrayer.

"What does 'Kunu' mean?"
"It's Hawaiian for Chuck!"

"You've got Christ between your legs, but with a shorter beard!"

(Paraphrasing since I've only seen it once.)

The funnier part of the first naked scene isn't the wangdangdoodle, but the bending over and crying part--that had our audience howling with laughter. Jason's got a birthmark on one cheek (I asked the guy friend I went with if he noticed it and he said no because he'd averted his eyes during that part, heh), too.

I think the thing with Aldous being sober was just a riff on the usual blizted-out rock star trope. Notice that when he did get drunk, he got all b.s.-ily philosophical and obnoxiously righteous.

dez said...

They made to much of a point about him ordering cranberry juice, and then nothing ever came of it. I even noticed Aldous reacting a bit as he sipped at it.


When Jonah Hill says, "With wine?" or something like that, Aldous says he doesn't care anymore, which led me to believe he was bringing him the cranberry wine cocktails, especially after Aldous made with the drunk talk.

That First Andrew said...

Jonah Hill asked if he wanted Craberry Juice or Cranberry Cocktail, neither of which contains alcohol. Cranberry Cocktail is like the cheap version of cranberry juice, with a whole bunch of additives and nastiness to make it cheaper. But if it is what you grew up on, that is what you prefer, so Hill was giving him the option.

Alan Sepinwall said...

My issue was with the kids seeing a movie with tons of graphic sex scenes and curse words. I understand the desire to get out of the house and the expense of babysitting, but then go see something a little milder, y'know?

Linda said...

I am totally with Scott and Joe regarding the can't-get-aroused scene. The movie had taken some care to establish by that time that she did care about him, and that she had good reasons for breaking up with him, and it felt like gratuitous humiliation being piled on her for no particularly good reason. (Furthermore, 99 percent of the time in a parallel situation, he'd be utterly full of it for claiming that the problem is that he can't get aroused because she's a cold bitch. You have to be careful with that stuff.)

But overall, I agree that it was really funny, and the ability to home in on specific things like the relationship with Kunis and that one scene with Bell generally demonstrates that the movie is in good shape.

Randy said...

I was sure that was Stephanie D'Abruzzo, too... but have been unsuccessful in my attempt to either prove or disprove it.

I think I might have liked this more than Superbad or Knocked Up, because Segel is just naturally a more appealing performer than Seth Rogen or Jonah Hill. (Not Michael Cera, though - that kid's a genius.)

Another of my favorite gags in the movie: Peter watching Project Runway, then bursting into tears when Heidi "Auf"s Kayne. That cracked me up.

synconan said...

I think that Russell Brand steals the movie. Most of the times I was laughing he was on screen. I like how Segel wrote him to be so "cool". He doesn't just like Peter's music ... he "gets" it -as a musician - which Peter has to respect. He actually helps the newlywed guy (McBrayer). And in his last scene before he leaves Hawaii he actually helps Peter finally understand he doesn't need Sarah Marshall. Brand does a great job with the character. I will definitely be on the lookout for him in more movies.

electricia said...

My husband and I saw this yesterday, and we were really looking forward to it given that we're also big Apatow and HIMYM/Jason Segal fans. Here are a few disjointed thoughts:

• I love the use of Jason Sega's musical talent anywhere I can find it (and in fact sometimes just watch the clip of him and NPH singing "Confrontation" several times a day). When he started singing in the Dracula voice, I laughed until I was crying.

• We were also wondering about the cranberry juice scene. We thought that the waiter was pouring wine into it, but then we didn't think he seemed like he'd been drinking. I thought it was a little confusing.

• We have a list of actors who always play the same character/always play themselves, and Jonah Hill is definitely on that list. So is Michael Cera, but his character is a lot less annoying and more relatable. I could have done without the entire jonah Hill subplot. it just didn't seem to serve any purpose, it didn't go anywhere, and it didn't provide any extra funny moments. I was glad to see Paul Rudd playing a different character, even if it was just the stoner version of the usual one.

• And like you and others have said, I thought the entire film could have benefited from being about 20 minutes shorter.

• Oh, I didn't know about the penis scenes beforehand, so my jaw obligingly dropped! How can a movie with Jason Segal's junk and Mila Kunis' boobies be bad?

• I was completely annoyed by the scene where Sarah is telling him how hard she tried to save their relationship, etc. She went to therapy, seminars, read books, and all of that to try to save their relationship, yet it was all still a surprise to him - he didn't know any of those things. They were together for 5 years, and it never occurred to her that instead of going to seminars, perhaps she should try talking to her partner about the problem? That doesn't work for me. And it certainly doesn't make it okay that she cheated on him for a year. I liked that they tried to make her someone who was in a relationship that simply didn't work rather than just a cold bitch, but I thought that scene made her less likable, not more.

• In spite of all of my criticisms above, I did really enjoy it. There were a lot of laugh-out-loud moments ("What's with the hat? You look like a member of the Buena Vista Social Club"), and it was sweet and the characters weren't such over-the-top-caricatures that they weren't compelling, as often happens in rom-coms. I'd still rank it below Knocked Up and Superbad to place it in fourth position of the big 4.

• I would love to see the entire production of the Dracula rock opera with puppets. Although that theater looked suspiciously bigger than the 99-seaters in Hollywood where something like that would usually play!

Adam said...

I really enjoyed the movie...I can see that Apatow-produced movies are starting to run together, so he hope he changes up his formula a little bit.

The scene in the movie that I didn't like was the dinner scene with all four characters...I felt it was an especially cruel scene in a movie that wasn't intended to be cruel to its characters.

chris w said...

I loved this movie as well. I love the aspect of Apatow movies that you feel like you're just hanging out in this universe with the shleppy guys and they're hilarious.

My main problem is it felt like it needed a scene where Rachel realizes she likes Peter more explicitly. Even up to the end I thought she was just humoring a guest of the hotel. And I totally didn't buy the part that she was pissed off at Peter for messing around with Sarah again and I guess mainly because I didn't think she truly liked him. It felt like it was just a mechanic scene to get the two separated and give Peter a chance to get his shit together.

Stef said...

I really loved this movie, and i've been a Jason Segel groupie since I first got F&G on DVD years ago... Nick Andopolis just melted my heart, and maybe that means I go for the creepy guys, but I've always wanted to give him a hug! :-) In the Apatow-verse, I think I'd put this one right up there with Knocked Up at the top, cuz both of them just seem to be about real people experiencing real things, and having the same kinds of conversations we'd all have with our friends, they're just a lot funnier! I love the warmth of these movies, and I know some of my guy friends think they've all started to become "chick flicks," but that still works for me. Like everyone, I think Bill Hader, Paul Rudd, and Jack McBrayer were all fantastic, both the women were really strong and authentic-seeming, and I can't want to see Russell Brand again.

LA said...

^What Stef said. I LOVE Jason because of Nick, and they could have shown him doing two hours of the dracula voice, and I would have been entertained.

My disjointed thoughts:

Absolutely think that was Stephanie.

"Nothing Compares 2U" sung in Hawaiian over the end credits... classic!

Jason Bateman in the end credits... classic!

I loved the color saturation they used in shooting the Hawaiian scenes.

I kinda thought Russell Brand stole the show. If they had cut Jonah Hill completely, I wouldn't have missed him. If they had cast someone else in Superbad, I would have been happy. He may look like Seth Rogan, but his comic chops are not the same.

I heard some interviews with Jason last week who said that the breakup scene was couched in reality. He actually suffered a naked breakup from someone who had been out of town for a few months. Has anyone heard if that was Linda/Lindsey?

He also said he is quite practiced in using his humilation as comic fodder as he's been 6 foot 4 since he was 12, and the kids at school used to chant "ride the oaf" as they jumped on him in junior high.

SPOILERS:

One of my favorite deliveries was early on when he was having sex with one of the early post-Sarah girls who in the most lackluster voice possible says, "I just came."

The pearl necklace line cracked me up. "Did you have that necklace, like, a second ago?"

I'd give it a 7, and I'd place it above Superbad, about equal with Knocked Up. Jason and Seth have such differing comic rhythms and styles that it's really hard to place one over the other.

I'm glad you reviewed this, Alan. I was hoping you'd mention it.

Nicole said...

I made an effort to see this on the weekend too, and was glad that I did. It was a bit long in terms of pacing, but there were many funny or sweet moment and I rate this just below 40 year old Virgin. I like that Aldous wasn't the douche I thought he'd be, especially based on the initial video they show.

There probably needed to be depth added to the female characters, and that is my only concern with the Apatow trend. The pretty girl, schlubby guy thing is irritating, but it's more than we only really see the women through the guy's point of view. Although I don't think Jason Segal is that schlubby, he did seem less handsome than when he's on HIMYM, which could be wardrobe.

Mila Kunis impressed me, having only seen her in That 70's show, and she has more range than I thought. On the other hand, I was less impressed with Kristen Bell as she seemed like Veronica Mars without the witty dialogue.

andythesaint said...

Spoiler alert:

I actually liked the scene that ended up being Sarah's final encounter with Peter, but agree that it wasn't a good place to leave things with Sarah. I think the scene itself was good, but needed a follow-up scene later when things were calmer to better service Sarah.

But as a service to Peter's character? I thought it was really strong (as well as comedic). He's portrayed throughout the movie as a guy who isn't suited for sex for its own sake (but rather needs more of an emotional element. Thus his relative disinterest and lack of connection with the earlier conquests compared to his more passionate affair with Rachel).

With Sarah, it's more complicated. Due to lingering feelings and familiarity, he still wants to be with Sarah, which is why he quickly succumbs to her advances. But, ultimately, he's unable to perform despite this desire, which felt real to me. Too often, men are portrayed as all too eager horndogs, especially when paired with women more desirable than they (an Apatow staple), but Peter was no longer the kind of guy who could merely act in the service of his penis, and oddly, it was his penis that told him this. It's not often that a movie like this will portray male arousal as having an emotional component, so I appreciated that.

Sure, he could have simply resisted her, but that wouldn't have felt as authentic (turning down his incredibly attractive ex whom he'd spent most of the movie pining after would've felt like a bit of a cop out, and in my mind, would have made Sarah look more desperate and whorish as Scott Tobias suggests). Part of him still wants her, just not all the necessary parts.

As for his blow up at her, I felt it appropriate because A) he's not exactly in a calm position there, and thus it makes sense that he'd pass off some of his frustration in a less-than-productive fashion, and B) Peter never got much of an opportunity to express his anger at Sarah before then. Previously, he was depressed, and still hoping for her return. Then he learns of the affair, but his anger is quickly turned around on him when Sarah reveals her (completely justified) reasons for ending their relationship.

But here's the thing, while Sarah had every right to break up with Peter, that doesn't mean that she had the right to have an affair. Peter's anger is justified, particularly in a situation where Sarah is seemingly trying to push aside their issues and her guilt by rushing into sex.

Kenrick said...

I agree with you Scott, probably because I'm a fan of Bell's.

Of all the bits in the movie, I have to say I was most amused by how much Aldous hated the shirt Sarah gave him and how he dealt with it. Yeah I'm lame, haha.

dez said...

^Great analysis of that scene, andythesaint. ITA.

We were also wondering about the cranberry juice scene. We thought that the waiter was pouring wine into it, but then we didn't think he seemed like he'd been drinking. I thought it was a little confusing.

I thought Aldous' behavior seemed a little different than what we'd seen. I was certain that the waiter spiked his drink. And the others wouldn't notice if he was getting drunk because they were already plastered.

I understand the desire to get out of the house and the expense of babysitting, but then go see something a little milder, y'know?

It's rated "R," isn't it? That's a big tip-off right there. Good chance most of the stuff went over the heads of the kids anyway :-)

aml said...

A very good film and thank God I read the film review prior to going because that was a lotta wang.

Alan, I once saw The Graduate with Kathleen Turner in Toronto during the winter of 2002. Seated right behind me was a family with two boys about 10 to 12 years old who should have been watching Olympic hockey that night instead of getting an eyeful of Kathleen Turner's v. Anyways...

Alex said...

As a fan of Segel since F&G, I'm really glad to see him getting his due. I think he made for a pretty good leading man and he's much better looking than Rogen so I could certainly believe he could land a girl like Bell or Kunis. Plus, he wasn't a total slacker without a job or prospects.

Loved the ensemble, the CSI parody, the Dracula, the Muppet theme, the beautiful setting and Kunis dialing it down to surprise me and be a really cool girl (which she seems to be in real life- very anti Hollywood). I would definitely rate it above "Superbad."

Anonymous said...

I too loved the CSI send ups, especially after recently watching a You Tube montage of some of the "best of" Caruso one liners followed in rapid succession.
As for this movie, I know I like simple stuff, but Hader was hilarious in his video cam sessions with Segal....just doing dopey little things like he does on SNL, but unlike that show, they ended right when they should have and did not drag on for extra minutes and become unfunny.
Oh, and Aldous' line about "f-ing" the limo driver at the end was a great send off for him.
Thought it was a good movie, but no where near as funny as Super Bad

Alan Sepinwall said...

I just got an e-mail from Stephanie D'Abruzzo herself, who says that she's been getting this question a lot, but unfortunately, it wasn't her as Dracula's lover.

Tish Strandboge said...

My husband and I spent a rare late-Friday afternoon at the movies (we got lucky and our son had a birthday party to go to - yay! free sitter!) and loved this movie. Like you, Alan, we are both huge Freaks and Geeks fans, and Nick fans in particular, so we couldn't wait to see it. Totally agree with you about how generous Jason Segel was with his writing of the characters -- there was no real villain, everyone was likeable. And I think that's the way life usually is, so it's nice to see that refelected in art once in awhile. We both found the nude breakup scene somewhat funny, but mostly we felt bad for the guy. Not sure if my reaction to that scene would have been different if I didn't know it was coming. Overall, we loved the movie, loved all the characters, and want to see it again as soon as possible. Oh, and we also want to start re-watching Freaks and Geeks. And that detective-who-talks-to-animals crime show from the end credits? I would totally watch that show!

BTW, regarding the parents who took their kids to your showing -- I have a 9 year old boy, and they don't miss anything. Especially when they get the sense that it's something they're not supposed to be seeing, then they really pay attention. No way I would have wanted my kid to see that movie!

The CineManiac said...

Don't have time to read all the comments but wanted to share a few things.
I saw a very different cut of the film back in October which was a bit longer but had some great moments that were ultimately cut.
The Main differences were 1)Far less penis, the first time he drops the towel in the theatrical cut, was it, so they added 2 new scenes to the beginning and redid the whole break up losing some bits and adding some as well.
2)Kristin Wiig was in the original cut as a Yoga Instructor which was hilarious as she taught Sarah, Aldous, and Peter Yoga, peter sucks and Aldous and Sarah are amazing and Wigg fawns all over them.
3)The ending: originally after he says he'll call outside the theater it ended, so the ending was actually better than it was originally.
Also a lot of the movie is based on Segel's relationship with Cardellini, although he know says he based it on all his break-ups, but it's alot about her.
And Sarah's scene telling Peter how she took all the therapy and he had given up on himself, based on Bell's former relationship.
A Couple of things I loved not mentioned here: The Cellphones attack movie, clearly making fun of The Pulse, which KB starred in.

Also to Scott Tobias - the original cut had a big scene at the airport between Sarah and Peter after the one your speaking of which made it a better end for their relationship. Something I feel they should have left in.

Archie Goodwin said...

Here are my thoughts. Spoilers abound:

1.In general I liked the film. The humor was good, but what I liked the most was how the four characters involved in the main relationships all generally came off as sympathetic human beings. In particular I loved the use of flashbacks to explore Sarah and Peter's relationship. It really helped explain Peter's pathetic sadness when they showed the quick clips of their happy time and you could tell they were once in love. And I loved the scene where Aldous wasn't going to wear the shirt, and Sarah remembered how Peter was always happy to wear the goofy shirts/bags/hats she got him. I'm sure anyone who has ever been through a breakup has had a similar moment, where they adjust to a new quirk in a new relationship and suddenly realize how much they miss something that their previous SO did that they never even noticed. Rachel was actually probably the character that ended up with the weakest motivation. She worked as a character in general, but, as others have pointed out, the movie never really made it clear how she moved from pity to love so quickly. It probably was related to Peter being a nice, funny guy compared to her previous intense, angry boyfriend, but the movie could have made that more clear. In all, though, it was a rare romantic comedy in which I was rooting for some sort of happy ending for everyone. Which leads to my next point.

2.I agree with the other commenters that the end scene of Sarah “seducing” Peter was just bad. The movie had actually gotten me to a point where I would have been happy if Peter ended up with Rachel or got back together with Sarah in a new, better relationship. So to have Sarah basically resorting to sexually groveling and then to have Peter angrily reject her was a disservice both to the character and their relationship throughout the movie. Andythesaint is fairly convincing in arguing for the value of this scene, but even that explanation only works from Peter's perspective. Their relationship was clearly about much more than sex, so it just strikes me as wrong that Sarah would so quickly and desperately jump to sex. That scene appeared to have been put in in order to get rid of Sarah after Segel couldn't figure out a good way to end her story and to provide some last minute conflict for the Rachel-Peter relationship. Inserting this conflict was silly, because it was incredibly cliched (how many other people expected to have Rachel see them through the window and run off) and since at that point we already knew that Peter and Rachel were in love this conflict was completely artificial and merely delayed the inevitable. I can only guess that Segel knew the ending he wanted with Rachel showing up at the Dracula show, and this was the best way he could think to get there.

3.As an addition to the above, I would have liked an ending to Sarah's story. Aldous got an ending through his talk with Peter, where he basically decided to keep on being Aldous. Peter and Rachel clearly got an ending. Yet while the Animal Instincts promo was great, I really would have liked something about where Sarah was going from this whole event. Her character just basically was humiliated, called names by Peter, then disappeared. I really would have loved to see the scene at the airport to which the cinemaniac referred. Hopefully on the DVD.

4.Parodying David Caruso/CSI Miami probably jumped the shark by now, but I don't care. I don't think it will ever stop being funny.

5.The penis stuff was unnecessary and gratuitous. It really didn't add anything to the scene. You did not need to see the penis to know Peter was naked, and the humor from the uncomfortable nudity came more from the backal nudity than the frontal nudity. The fact that you could have edited the brief seconds of penis out of the scene and not changed anything whatsoever, and the general absence of other nudity in a movie with a good amount of sexual content, indicates to me that the penis was only in there for the buzz/shock value. And/or Jason Segel is a big exhibitionist.

6.Did anyone else notice the boom mike constantly intruding into scenes? I normally don't notice bloopers like that, but in this case it happened several times. Is this just a component of this being a relatively low budget picture? Because it was weird for a mainstream release, and I was honestly starting to wonder how they could have missed it so often. Or maybe I was just seeing things.

7.After seeing the end of the Dracula musical, I think that the less is more approach would have been better. The song in the bar was great, but the full production just could not measure up to the expectations, and it wasn't nearly funny/good enough to be worth the response it was getting from the fake audience. On the whole I would still prefer to see Dr. Acula.

8.My opinion of the side characters varied. I liked Paul Rudd and most of the hotel staff. They were there for the service of the humor and the plot, nothing more, nothing less. I didn't like the McBrayer character because it was just basically him playing a character he's done on 30 Rock and Conan, and it is getting a little old. But at least that character had a bit of a story arc that developed based on his interactions with the main characters. Jonah Hill's character was fairly useless, though. There were a few laughs, but he was given too much screen time to just be there for a few quick laughs like most of the hotel laugh and nothing came from his interaction with the main characters. It was basically the same joke repeated several times.

dez said...

Did anyone else notice the boom mike constantly intruding into scenes? I normally don't notice bloopers like that, but in this case it happened several times. Is this just a component of this being a relatively low budget picture? Because it was weird for a mainstream release, and I was honestly starting to wonder how they could have missed it so often. Or maybe I was just seeing things.


Sounds like your theater didn't size the screen correctly. There were no boom mics visible where I saw it.

Lindy said...

I just saw it today and really liked it -- except for the final scene between Peter and Sarah. Alanthesaint pretty much nailed it on the head:

"I actually liked the scene that ended up being Sarah's final encounter with Peter, but agree that it wasn't a good place to leave things with Sarah. I think the scene itself was good, but needed a follow-up scene later when things were calmer to better service Sarah."

I don't think it worked to have our last shot of Sarah (except for the animal psychic promo, which was awesome) being Peter saying she's the devil. She's not. She and Peter are just wrong for each other.

The attempt at makeup sex actually rang pretty true for me -- her show is canceled, she's broken up with Aldous, and now Peter is having sex with a stunning hottie in the room next door. It made sense to me that Sarah would try to salvage some sense of security by trying to get Peter back. She didn't come off as desperate to me, just a control freak trying to regain some control. Overall I thought Sarah was pretty sympathetic (self-centered and bossy, but not a monster) and I would have liked to see her character get a more satisfying ending.

Otherwise, loved it, for all of the reasons Alan said. Nice work, Jason Segel & company!

Lindy said...

Oops -- that's andythesaint, not alanthesaint. Sorry, Andy!

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this movie yet (had to watch Harold & Kumar first!), but apparently all the real "sarah Marshalls" are pissed with the ad campaign and are lashing back!

http://bigpicture.fancast.com/2008/04/fancast_feature_sarah_marshall.html

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that the theaters are not responsible for all of the boom mic slips. I also find it hard to believe that they were accidental, there were some showing in scenes with no dialogue or nat sound at all, lol

Anonymous said...

Whats the drink the main guy drinks at the bar (its like a green cocktail)

if anyone could tell me i would appreciate it :) .