28 August 2009

Flashback Friday- Forgetting Sarah Marshall

URBAN: Funny, emotionally and literally naked, but still a great romantic comedy in the Apatow tradition.

Judd Apatow produced, this fillm contains all of those characteristics. It also stars Jason Segel in a perfect role for him.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall takes on the shape of the characteristic Apatow film almost immediately. Jason Segel, playing Peter Bretter teases us by shaking his junk just off the camera, but the tease doesn’t last long. Full frontal male nudity is horrifying, but also hilarious considering the situation the audience views. In a very key way, this early scene provides a critical method of interpreting the film. Nicholas Stoller, the director, provides the usual approach from an Apatow produced film. He doesn’t tease us much. Everything that you want to see as a movie-goer you get to see. This same principle is at work on the characters and the storyline as well. The heart of this story is found in examining how the characters and the viewers deal with getting what they want.

For example, the main character, as a viewer, we want to see him succeed and get back together with his ex-girlfriend. He does. We also want to see him make it with his new girl. He does. We want to see his Dracula rock opera. It’s all there. We definitely want to see the hot chick from That 70’s Show naked. We do. The strangest thing of all is that at once we want there to be a happy ending, while at the same time we want the relationships and ending to be realistically flawed, the way we see them in reality. All of this is in the film.

The serio-comic style of these films is reminiscent of Woody Allen. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, like Knocked Up, Superbad, and The 40 Year Old Virgin does not conform to stereotypes. It’s very raunchy, very funny, and very good. Its victories are only temporary and partial. This could have been a horrible serious film, or even worse, a lackluster romantic comedy if this same storyline was handled by anyone else. The blend of serious, comic, fantasy and reality I feel is best described near the end of the film when Segel’s character describes the success of his rock opera by saying, “Someone told me it was comedy and that opened things up.”

Apatow’s blend of serious/comic opens up a lot of life’s mysteries. While the other films mentioned above are marvelous in the way they are able to bring the story to the level of social commentary (especially Knocked Up). This story keeps its focus lower, but still manages a great bit of critical commentary about the current state of television by poking fun at crime dramas like CSI. More importantly he says a lot about relationships. As always, there is quite a bit about male bonding. The primary message about dating relationships is incomplete. As is usually the case when trying to portray abstractions like this, you can’t say it, you have to show it. And this film shows the story very well.

URBAN: Recommended

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