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 film is available on a couple different versions for DVD, but for this review I’ll be tackling the three-disc edition. Before you get too excited the third disc is just the digital copy. But hey, it’s three discs—the packaging has to be some weird tri-disc single width amaray case, right? Nope. It, in fact, just has the digital copy in a paper sleep that’s tucked inside the case. Real nice. Inserts include a $15 pop corn gift card (minimum purchase of $25) and the code for the digital copy.
Video for the film is admirable and what you’d expect from a recent film. It’s a bit compressed at times, but overall it’s a solid video transfer that shouldn’t disappoint anyone (unless you have the Blu-ray version and realize that the films Blu-ray transfer isn’t much better than an upscaled DVD, then you’ll probably be very disappointed). Audio is a strong Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with proper use of surrounds coming in for the various musical bits from the film. Also included are Spanish and French 5.1 tracks as well as English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
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 are the ever important “Deleted and Extended Scenes” (19:25), split between two discs, 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. Auditions (15:35) show off the tapes that got our stars their roles and Cinemax: Final Cut (16:27) gives us interviews with the cast in Hawaii. 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.
Overall this is a fantastic release, but it really could have been handled a bit better. Quite honestly after witnessing how shoddy the Blu-ray release is, I’m going to give this DVD release higher marks. The video transfer is good and the extras are all included here, so there’s nothing left off. Even if you have a Blu-ray player, you may just want to stick with this version rather than plunk the extra cash down on the more expensive Blu-ray release. Highly Recommended.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on September 30th.