Sunday, October 05, 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Grade B

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
Jason Segel, Kristin Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, with Jonah Hill. Director Nicholas Stoller.

A Hollywood musician (Segel) is dumped by his TV star girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (Bell) and decides to go to Hawaii to forget his grief. There he meets hotel clerk Kunis, but alas, his ex is also at the same hotel with her new boyfriend, a British pop star (Brand). Comedy ensues as Segel tries to get over Sarah and establish a relationship with Kunis, while being jealous of Bell and Brand.

The greatest flaw in this movie is its three hour length, which is inexcusable and unnecessary. Whole characters could have been eliminated without loss, such as Segel’s brother, and the sexually dysfunctional Mormon couple, just to name a few. There is no real story, just endless situations setting up sexual and relationship gags, so there would seem to be no constraint on what could be edited. The second problem is that the characters are all two-dimensional stereotypes and it is hard to care about any of them.

However the acting is just terrific, from all characters except Segel, who is fairly wooden, (not including his penis, which is shown several times). The other three principals are entrancing and kept me glued to the screen. Brand does a terrific over the top, self-obsessed character with inherently funny diction and good physical acting. Kunis is also mesmerizing, despite a lip job that makes her look like Michelle Pfeiffer. The dialog is quite witty and keeps you strung along even though the characters themselves are unimaginative. These virtues overcome the film’s length, languid pace and boring story.

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