Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Best Movie So Far This Year–and Maybe Since Citizen Kane

Okay, so I’ve been sitting here racking my brain, trying to think of some witty, pithy intro to talking about Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and nothing’s coming, so I’m just gonna say it…


I mean, there’s nothing groundbreaking or insightful about saying the the Judd Apatow camp is a pretty brilliant comedy machine.  (Apatow just produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall; it was directed by Nicholas Stoller.)  I loved The 40-Year-Old Virgin… and I loved Superbad… and I thought Knocked Up was the best of the three.

But Forgetting Sarah Marshall may be the best yet.

Or, maybe I’m just so amped up after seeing it I only think it’s the best yet.

But either way– it’s an awesome freaking movie.

The story: After being dumped by his girlfriend (Sarah Marshall, played by Kristen Bell) of five years, a broken-hearted Peter Better (Jason Segel, who also wrote the script) heads to Hawaii to try and flush her out of his system.  But no sooner has he arrived at his resort, than he discovers that Sarah has also come to this resort for her own bit of R&R… with her new boyfriend, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand).  Afraid he’ll look like he’s running away, Peter decides to tough it out and stay at the resort, which means he must get over Sarah… while constantly running into her and her ultra-cool new man.

Even though Judd Apatow just produced Sarah Marshall, his fingerprints are all over it… and he and his cronies certainly have down pat the male-skewing-romantic-comedy formula.  Like The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, this follows a can’t-get-his-shit-together guy who learns to grow up and, basically, be a man… and it hits all the same beats that Knocked Up laid out for it.  It opens with a montage of Peter, an aspiring composer, slacking in his messy apartment… it has the guy-works-feverishly-to-grow-into-a-better-person montage… and it has plenty of sensitive-but-not-emasculating guy moments (as well as just enough full frontal dick shots to make you laugh and squirm).

But I think Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a more moving movie than Knocked Up.  It may not, ultimately, be a better movie, or even a funnier movie, or even– I can’t believe I’m gonna use this word– a more “important” movie… but it might be (at least tonight, while I’m totally loving it) a more moving movie.  Here’s why…

Knocked Up sets up a totally believable situation most people have thought about and dreaded…  then nails it with dead-on emotional (and comic) accuracy. 

But Forgetting Sarah Marshall takes us into a situation we’ve all been in before… so while it may not have as gigantic laughs or dramatic highs as Knocked Up, the pain feels deeper, more real, more relatable. 

In other words, many of us have imagined and feared what it would be like to be in Ben Stone’s shoes and find out we knocked up some girl after a one night stand… but we’ve all actually suffered through a painful breakup and the inability to get over someone. 

And that’s the genius of Apatow and his filmmaking buddies: they know exactly how to take agonizing, gut-wrenching emotional situations and turn them into comedies that are not only hilarious, but also amplify the characters’ pain.

Then again, the genius of Forgetting Sarah Marshall may just be that is has the jaw-droppingly awesome Mila Kunis.

Either way, this is the first movie in a long time that reminded me why I love movies, which is a pretty damn good feeling.  I’ll probably go see it again this weekend, making it the first movie I’ve seen twice in theaters since The Bourne Ultimatum (which I still believe, years from now, will be looked upon– along with the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo‘s statue of David, and Van Halen I— as one of mankind’s greatest artistic achievements.  And for those of you who disagree with me… ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  Matt Damon kills a guy with nothing but a book and his bare hands!  What more do you want from a movie?!).

Next up here at Script Notes, I’ll answer Corey Nolter’s questions for his 9th grade research paper.  Until then, here’s a little Sarah Marshall


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One thought on “Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Best Movie So Far This Year–and Maybe Since Citizen Kane

  1. Jennifer

    Okay, you better not be pulling my leg. It’s difficult to miss the fact that this movie is out with all the billboards across L.A., but I really had no intention of seeing it. If I think it’s half as brilliant as you seem to think, the money will be well spent. Let’s see. . . =]