Written by: Jason Segal
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller
This much publicized next entry from the Judd Apatow camp looked promising from the trailers, if not mildly amusing, with a hodgepodge of the usual suspects and relationship hijinks. We’ve come to expect the raunchy ‘real-world’ dialogue as demonstrated in The 40-Year-Old-Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad, not to mention the painful process of falling in love and making it work theme.
These are themes which reflect the day-to-day lives of billions of people on the planet, wrapped up and served to us in the style we’ve come to expect from this comedic brain trust. At this point, you have to wonder if they’ll ever run out of material…I mean, how many different relationship stories can you tell?
Apparently, many, many more, if Sarah Marshall is any indication. In short, this film takes so many of the familiar relationship comedy formulas and mixes them together, shakes them up, and serves them back to us in a risky, raunchy, brave, heartfelt, utterly relatable and ultimately hilarious way.
The usual break up scene is taken to a new level as Segal plays the scene completely nude, sharing his genitalia gratuitously in multiple shots, enough that you could guess the actual size. Unfortunately for me and fortunately (?) for the ladies, the usual booby nudity is switched out for cock shots, which although not a real treat for me, is a brave move, one that seeks to defy the usual norms for this genre, but what the hell…perhaps it will pave the way for more from the ladies.
What is good about Segal taking this 'pinky and the brain' risk is that although it’s gratuitous and silly and funny, it will hopefully help people (especially American movie audiences) to lighten the fuck up on nudity and get over it already. While I’m not cheering for an all nude, all the time style movie (that’s what we have porn for), I think it’s time we stop getting so worked up over it. I see myself nude everyday and I have no problem with it. No black boxes or cutaway shots, no digitally enhanced abs...I face it everyday and although in my own 'beer-goggled' way I may look like King Leonidas, the fact remains...I have no pants on and I'm okay with it.
Okay, stop trying to picture me nude and focus on the review. We're here to talk about Sarah Marshall (or better yet, Kristen Bell nude...but, no she's not in this...sorry), not me.
Jason Segal, who played a small role in last year’s “Knocked Up” takes center stage as a TV music composer who is dating the titular hot babe from a CSI-style show, played by Kristen Bell. When she breaks up with him, Segal goes through some of the usual heartache activities until he is snapped out of it by his stepbrother (Superbad's Bill Hader) who suggests he go to Hawaii to get away from it all.
After arriving at a Hawaiian resort, Segal is shocked to discover that his Sarah Marshall is vacationing there as well…with her new Brit rock star boyfriend (Russell Brand) who is as hilarious as he is obnoxious. Segal finds comfort in one of the resort hosts, played by the beautiful Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show), who really impressed me with her acting and comedic chops. I never watched much of That 70’s Show, so it was a pleasant surprise to see an actress step forward like her. Kunis plays it perfect and sells every scene she’s in, defying the normal “replacement girlfriend” clichés by playing it genuine and sweet.
As the two groups run into each other throughout the resort, they stumble through regret, jealousy, loss, love, and heartbreak all over again. The film pulls off all of these themes without missing a beat, keeping the laughs at a constant and steady pace. I found myself cracking up at so many points in this film that there’s no way for me to pinpoint even the highlights. Consistently funny and hitting all the right marks, you’ll find yourself giggling like a schoolgirl one minute and then totally engaged in the next. What truly impresses me is that the film was written solely by Segal, a knock out of the park for a first time feature. Before Jon Favreau was directing big budget fare like Iron Man, he wrote and starred in Swingers which is another heartbreak journey film which hit all the right marks. Like Swingers, this is a fresh, original voice on a familiar theme.
Movies like this don’t come along on a regular basis, and Sarah Marshall has definitely earned its place among the best of the genre. Although it has the ‘Apatow’ blend of comedy, I think it would be fair to say that it stretches beyond that in many respects, due largely to Segal’s own comedic vision, while still retaining the feel of the camps usual flair.
Sarah Marshall has all the laughs you can handle and will stain your eyes with quick cut images of Jason Segal’s limp noodle, and leave you with a new perspective on the sacrifice of a pig for a Lua, pink bikinis, hotel room sex, obsessed fans, Dracula musicals, Mila Kunis’s almost anime beautiful eyes, how to learn to surf, dirty video chatting tricks, and will teach a lesson to the spring breakers that get drunk and flash their boobs while cameras are everywhere.
Movie Grade: A
NEXT UP: My review for "Poultrygeist" the newest addition to the TROMA family of films and my long-awaited (?) Playboy interview with my dogs. Does anyone care anymore? OF COURSE YOU DO!