The latest effort of Judd Apatow and family, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is another in the line of “romantic comedies for men.” I use that denotation because with all of the raunchy jokes (although this one not quite so much as the previous efforts) it may turn off those who aren’t accustomed to the rank and rude nature of the jokes in the film. With as much commercial success as it had critical, Forgetting Sarah Marshall arrives on the home video format in a variety of editions, each one more profane than the last.
After Peter (Jason Segel) is given the devastating news that his girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), is breaking up with him, he soon decides to take a vacation to truly forget about the (once) love of his life. Settling into his stay in Hawaii, Peter is disheartened to find the place he went to get away from his ex is the one place she was at that very moment. For the entire vacation, Peter attempts to deal with being in the same place as his ex once again, all the while discovering that there may be someone else out there for him, on that very island and in that very resort. With a hilarious cast rounded out by Mila Kunis, Russell Brand and supporting characters filled in by Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is another in the line of now-classic R-rated comedies from comedy master Judd Apatow.
Giving Apatow a lot of credit on this one is admittedly going a bit too far; he was a producer on it, but at its heart the film was written by star Jason Segel who pulled a lot of elements from his own life and mixed them into the story (I could mention some, but considering I’m basing them off of the extras on this set, I can’t really tell was facetious and what’s true, so I’ll forego specifics). Director Nicholas Stoller did a fantastic job with directing the film and adds a bit of a different feel to the films than the previous two big Universal/Apatow collaborations (40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up). Whether it’s just the setting or the fresh faces, Forgetting Sarah Marshall just feels different and less serious and fastly paced than the other films. I was actually quite relaxed during the course of the entire film and it wasn’t until the very end did you feel any kind of excitement for the characters. That may sound like a slam against the film, but really—it’s really just a relaxing and hilarious way to spend two hours and I could easily spend time watching this one over and over again.
There are a couple elements that I wasn’t completely comfortable with when it came to this film. The main thing is that while we get to see Peter’s side of the breakup and we spend over an hour hating Sarah Marshall’s character just because of it, by the time we see her side of the story it’s almost too late. Then once you begin to feel for her as well, her character is once again turned into the villain by the end of the film. I have never been so conflicted on whether I hated or liked a character, but that may just because Kristen Bell is so damn adorable that it’s really just difficult to hate her period. Still, I do wish we could have spent more time on Sarah’s side of the story, if only to make it more evenhanded; as is the send off and complete slap to her character simply mixed things up a bit too much to give the audience a proper read on her character.
Of course the film is titled with “forgetting” in the title, so I suppose that’s why they didn’t want to include too much of her in the film. As is, her role as well as the role of her boyfriend, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) stole many scenes by themselves, so focusing more on them would’ve just distracted from the main point of the film. So how did the main character, Peter, fare then? Well, after only seeing Segel in supporting roles (is that a theme? First Rogen in Virgin gets a starring role in Knocked Up, then Segel from Knocked Up gets Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Who’s next?), I wasn’t sure what to take from his character but he comes off as immediately likeable. A bit of a slob and lazy, but other than that the audience immediately feels comfortable with his character. Once he surrounds himself with the rest of the cast, the rest of the film slips together and feels very natural. In particular, Segel’s interaction with Jon Hader, who plays his best friend in the film, results in some of the best (and most vulgar) dialogue exchanges in the film.
And we can’t forget Paul Rudd or Jonah Hill in their roles. Both are hilarious as always, although I do wish Rudd would get utilized more; I consistently pay attention to him and only him when he’s on screen, so he’s a bit of a scene stealer. I freely admit to having a man crush on Paul Rudd, he’s just that good; hell, I’ve watched some real crap he’s been in simply because he makes me laugh sixty percent of the time, every time (yup that was required). Hill plays an uncomfortable fan of Snow who is also quite hilarious and I enjoyed every moment of which he was on screen. Bit disappointed that Rogen didn’t get a brief role, but I guess he’s busy with his own stuff now. Russell Brand and Mila Kunis also deserve a round of applause as the significant others of our star and title character who are both immediately likeable, but again causes issues with deciding who to like or hate in this film.
Overall with the great mix of characters, locations and music, Forgetting Sarah Marshall isn’t easy to forget. Maybe it’s the multiple revealing of Segel’s nether regions, but Forgetting Sarah Marshall sticks with you and will leave you with a smile on your face. Highly Recommended.
The good news: all extras are in 1080i/p. The bad news: the films transfer looks rather crappy. The packaging itself is your standard two-disc Blu-ray case, with the second disc housing the digital copy of the film. Inserts include the digital copy code as well as a user guide for how to use the Blu-ray’s many little U-Control features. There are a lot of extras to get through, so let’s get started.
But wait…before we do that. You know that crappy transfer I just mentioned? Yeah…it’s really quite bad. Maybe because it’s one of few Universal titles that I know of to use the AVC codec, but the whole film was incredibly flat in appearance. There was no picture depth and pretty much every ounce of detail was smeared away by the encoding process. Whatever beautiful Hawaiian scenery you were hoping to see looks nothing better than what you’d get from the DVD transfer and overall it’s just a really poor transfer. Color levels are great, but you aren’t getting much better than upscaled DVD quality here, which is incredibly frustrating considering I’ve just finished watching a whole slew of Universal titles that look great. Fortunately the films dialogue and many music tracks come through loud and clear with the DTS-HD Master Audio track, so no ear straining is required for this one. I’m still really disappointed about that video transfer though…bleck.
The differences between the unrated/rated cuts are negligible, as there is only seven minutes of extra scenes cut in, but you get more for the unrated cut and it’s done via seamless branching, so there’s no harm in watching this version over the rated version. You don’t get a whole lot more, although the Yoga scene is pretty hilarious.
For the extras we get the usual parade that we’ve come to expect from the Apatow films, although while we get the same amount of extras, the run times are significantly shorter than past efforts. First up is a Karaoke (17:43) area where people can sing along to the songs of the film, such as Snow’s hit songs as well as Peter’s music. Next are the ever important “Deleted and Extended Scenes” (19:25), which include quite a few Sarah/Snow sequences that I was hoping for in the actual film. It seemed they felt the same way, but ultimately cleaved them from the film. We get to see more of their relationship as well as a hilarious scene with Sarah on a horse that “runs” wild. Also included are some more Peter/Sarah bits, including one scene that was completely cleaved from the film with them at the airport together. In the same vein as the deleted scenes we have “Puppet Break Up” (2:30) standing alone for some reason, even though it really is just a deleted scene.
Next up are the “O-rama” extras that are so much fun to watch. Sadly they’re much shorter this round, but we do get “Line-o-rama” (7:49), “Sex-o-rama” (2:43) and “Drunk-o-rama” (2:30). The “Line-o-Rama” bit includes some scenes that aren’t even included anywhere else on the set, such as one with Snow and Sarah in bed in a rather…erm…undressed state. Not sure how that scene would have even worked in the film, but we don’t see any of that anywhere else on the set…rather strange. In any case, all three of the o-rama’s are fun to watch, although the Line remains the best out of the bunch.
“Gag Reel” (5:45) is up next, which his all too short. “A Taste for Love” (6:17) is another song from the film, while “Dracula’s Lament (Table Read)” (3:12) show’s us Segel playing the piano and singing the song at an early table read for the film. “Russell Brand: Aldous Snow” (5:56) talks about how Brand was cast in the role and “The Letter ‘U'” (3:45) shows Snow in some kind of Sesame Street like show trying to get the children to respond to him in ways that don’t completely anger him. “We’ve Got to Do Something (Music Video)” (3:47) is Snow’s music video, which seems kind of redundant to include with the Karaoke thing included as well, but here you go if you wanted it again.
“Crime Scene” (4:11) show’s more footage of Sarah Marshall’s canceled TV show, while “Sarah’s New Show – ‘Alts'” (2:15) shows the many different shows that she could have starred in. We saw one in the credits of the film, but this is a whole bunch of other aborted possibilities, all as funny as the next. “Raw Footage: Video Chat” (7:14) shows us the first conversation between Peter and his friend in raw form, while “Video Diaries” (35:16) takes us through the production of the film, with various days being included in the piece. Finally we have the “Red Band Trailer” (2:55) to wrap up the main extras.
A commentary is included for both versions of the film, although it’s done in a similar way to the Walk Hard track for anyone who listened to that. The track includes Director Nick Stoller, Executive Producer Rodney Rothman, Producer Shauna Robertson, Writer/Star Jason Segel and Cast Members Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand and Jack McBrayer and Kristen Bell even calls in at one point, although her comments are rather frivolous in nature. In all it’s a very lighthearted track with some behind the scenes tidbits, but it’s mostly just the cast and crew joking with one another. For some reason the unrated cuts commentary is abruptly cut off on the Blu-ray edition; I thought it was just my PC doing it, but it does it on the PS3 as well, so not sure what’s going on there.
The rest of the extras are thrown into the U-Control area. Here we get some more interviews, rehearsals and behind-the-scenes footage to play along with the movie and the option of viewing the commentary visually is included as well (for the extended version only). There are some cool things to check out here, but I still prefer to watch my extras separate from the film—there’s just something about getting into the film, even on repeat viewings, and then having it interrupted by a video that pops up in the lower right that’s annoying.
Overall this is a fantastic release, but it really could have been handled a bit better. Inexplicably some of the extras from the three-disc DVD edition are left off, such as the “Cinemax” extra. Not a huge deal, but with the shoddy video transfer, I would have rather they made this a two disc edition for the Blu-ray release, simply so the video didn’t suffer and so we’d get all of the extras. As is you’re actually getting about the same for your money as the three-disc DVD edition, as sad as that is. In any case if you absolutely want the Blu-ray edition, this one comes Recommended, although what you’re buying it for (the high definition transfer) isn’t exactly the greatest.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on September 30th.