Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Forgetting Sarah Marshall</strong> (2008)

(On Cable TV, April 2012) If you believe in the idea of Hollywood as one big giant conversation during which the same group of people build upon each others’ ideas in order to make genres “evolve” (acknowledging that evolution isn’t always progress), then Forgetting Sarah Marshall now seems like an essential piece of 2000s American comedy.  It’s from well-known comedy producer Judd Apatow; it features early feature-film appearances by a number of performers who would earn further notoriety in other films; and it fits in the revival of the raunchy R-rated romantic-comedy-for-boys sub-genre that stretches from The 40-Year-Old Virgin to counter-exemplar Bridesmaids (so far).  In short, Forgetting Sarah Marshall has become an essential piece of the conversation about the comedy genre over the past ten years, and I had to see it after missing out on its inauspicious release four years ago.  Fortunately, it lives up to the hype: It’s biggest enduring legacy is bound to be writer/actor Jason Segel’s break-out performance as a relatively more charming man-boy character than the Will Ferrell type.  Forgetting Sarah Marshall also remains noteworthy for bringing Russell Brand to the movies; something that would lead directly to Bring Him to the Greek.  Otherwise, there are good performances here by Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Jonah Hill, all of whom would go on to star in other high-profile comedies.  The film itself is decently funny, if sometimes over-long and almost repetitive at times.  The ending clearly shows the way to 2011’s The Muppets, as a further piece of evidence of Forgetting Sarah Marshall‘s crucial link in the Hollywood comedy conversation.  You don’t have to see it for what it set in motion: the film is successful enough by itself.  But it’s far more interesting as part of a genre than as a film completely disconnected from its context.

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