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Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/30/2008

All Ratings out of
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/28/2008

If you've read my reviews for Drillbit Taylor and Superbad, then you know that I've yet to jump on the Judd Apatow bandwagon. Save for the Will Ferrell/Adam McKay movies (Talladega Nights and Anchorman), I haven't truly enjoyed any of the recent films which Apatow had directed or produced, and I certainly haven't fallen in line with the rest of the world who seems determined to fall over themselves praising his work. I find that his movies are simply low-brow comedies which try to disguise this fact by presenting a lot of "heart". Oh, and there's the fact that the movie are simply too long. With this attitude firmly in hand, I certainly didn't expect much from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, especially considering that it was written by that guy from How I Met Your Mother who played the crazy roommate in Dead Man on Campus. Could this possibly be the film to change my mind?

Jason Segel stars in Forgetting Sarah Marshall as Peter Bretter, a composer for the television show, Crime Scene. He dates the star of the show, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) and everyone, especially Peter, assumes that they are happy together. Thus, Peter is devastated when Sarah breaks up with him. He mopes around his apartment, and then tries picking up women with his step-brother, Brian (Bill Hader), but nothing can bring him out of his funk. Brian convinces Peter to go on vacation, so he travels to Hawaii...only to find that Sarah is there with her new boyfriend, rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Peter decides that he would look like a coward if he left, so despite the anguish of seeing Sarah, he decides to stay at the resort. He befriends front-desk clerk Rachel (Mila Kunis), who begins to show him around the island, as well as some other guests at the hotel. Although these people are fun and supportive, Peter keeps finding himself face-to-face with Sarah and Aldous.

Going into Forgetting Sarah Marshall, all that I knew about the film was the basic premise and the fact that it contained a "shocking" amount of full-frontal male nudity. That was all that I had to go on. I'm happy to report that the nudity is nowhere near "shocking" and that the movie quickly rises above the banality of its main premise.

To date, Jason Segel has been known primarily as an actor, but it's clear that he has talent as a writer, both of stories and of music. The idea of a movie about a break-up is nothing new, and the fact that Peter runs into Sarah in Hawaii feels like the sort of coincidence which would feel at home on Three's Company. While these ideas take a natural course through the film, Segel opts to shake things up by adding unusual second-tier characters and interesting situations. While Peter is exploring the island and trying to forget about Sarah, whom he sees (literally) around every corner, he's actually searching for himself and his future. In this journey, he meets some odd people and is forced to do some things that make him come out of his shell. (I'm probably making the movie sound much deeper than it actually is.)

Of course, the movie contains the requisite sex jokes and gross-out moments, but Segel and Director Nicholas Stoller try to inject something clever into the movie. When I say that Forgetting Sarah Marshall goes to extremes, I don't mean that it's shocking in the traditional sense. (Although, again there is that male nudity...) Instead, the movie brings in some ideas that I simply didn't see coming. The funniest part of the movie wasn't spoiled for me, so I'm not going to spoil it for you here, but let's just say that Peter's dream project sets the film on a path that few modern comedies would dare to dread. It's nothing gross or offensive -- it's just so unusual that I can see it alienating members of the audience who are simply there for the low-brow humor.

And then we have Russell Brand -- what a find! As played by Brand, Aldous Snow appears to be channeling Nigel Tufnel, as he says completely ridiculous things in a British accent. He's lewd and frank and very funny. But, then the movie really pulls a fast one on us by making Aldous likable! We're supposed to hate the guy who stole Peter's girl, but he somehow manages to be pompous and cool at the same time. (Rumor has it that a movie featuring Brand reprising his role as Snow is being shot.)

Have I changed by mind about Apatow movies? No, as Forgetting Sarah Marshall is still too long and could have easily been shorn of 15 minutes. However, this movie is able to be lowbrow and shocking while showing actual "heart". Segel makes the puppy-dog-eyed Peter lovable and we even like the "villain". The movie has some true laugh-out-loud moments, and the more that I think about the finale, the more I realize how much I liked this movie. I will have no problem remembering Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall drops its towel on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image here is very sharp and clear, as the picture shows only a slight amount of grain and no defects from the source material. The movie takes advantage of the lust locations and the colors look fantastic here, especially reds and greens. The image has a nice depth, but the detail wasn't as good as I'd hoped. Some shots looked a bit soft and a few "location" shots looked very fake. The Disc contains a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Being a comedy, we don't get an abundance of radical audio effects here, but the stereo effects are also good and there are some moments, such as the surfing scene, where the surround and subwoofer channels really come to life. Any crowd scene produces detailed effects and the music in the film, especially the finale, sounds great. Not a home theater demo disc, but a serviceable transfer.

The Forgetting Sarah Marshall Blu-ray Disc contains a host of extras. We start with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Nick Stoller, Executive Producer Rodney Rothman, Producer Shauna Robertson, Writer/Actor Jason Segel, and actors Kristen Bell, Milas Kunis, Russell Brand, and Jack McBrayer. This is a fun commentary, as the group cracks jokes and ribs one another throughout the talk. Between this, we do learn about shooting in Hawaii and how some of the movie parallels Jason's life. With the "U-Control" feature, we also get a "Video Commentary", where we can see the speakers. "U-Control" also offers scattered Picture-in-Picture segments which offer insight into certain scenes, as well as a "Karaoke" option (which can also be done separately.) "Karaoke" offers on-screen lyrics for six scenes in the film which involve songs, including the song which Peter is forced to sing in the club. The Disc includes 11 DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES which run about 19 minutes. There's some funny stuff here, with the horse riding scene being my favorite. I can see why they cut it out, but for some reason, Kristen Bell spewing profanity makes me laugh. "Puppet Break Up" (2 minutes) is a deleted scene from the movie's finale. "Line-o-Rama" (8 minutes) shows us a variety of takes from a several different scenes. "Sex-o-Rama" (3 minutes) is another series of deleted scenes involving Peter's conquests. "Drunk-o-Rama" (2 minutes) shows alternate takes in which Peter tries many drinks. The Disc gives us a 6-minute GAG REEL. "A Taste for Love" (6 minutes) explores Peter's dream project and how it ties into Jason Segel's real-life. We see how the finale was created through on-set footage. "Dracula's Lament (Table Read)" (3 minutes) shows the actors rehearsing the scene in which Peter is forced to sing in the club. "Russell Brand: Aldous Snow" (6 minutes) explores how Brand got the part and includes his audition footage. "The Letter 'U'" (4 minutes) is a faux-Sesame Street like segment with Brand, children, and a "U" puppet. We get the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "We've Got to Do Something". "Crime Scene" (4 minutes) offers clips from the show within the movie. "Sarah's New Show - Alts" (2 minutes) offers a different look at the joke from the end credits. "Raw Footage - Video Chat" (7 minutes) offers an uncut look at Segel conversing with Bill Hader via split-screen. "Video Diaries" (35 minutes) is a 21-part featurette which takes us on-set to see how the film was made via comments from the cast & filmmakers. Finally, we have the RED BAND TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long