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DVD Review: Forgetting Sarah Marshall
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Sarah MarshallForgetting Sarah Marshall
Three-Disc Unrated Collector’s Edition
Directed by Nicholas Stoller
Starring Jason Segel, Kirsten Bell, Mila Kunis, Bill Hader, Russell Brand
Universal Home Entertainment
Release date: September 30, 2008

At first glance, Forgetting Sarah Marshall might seem like another sex comedy brought to you by producer Judd Apatow and is talented gang of writer/actors. But the film, written by Apatow alum Jason Segel, is so much more.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall combines the raunchiness of Superbad with the heart of 40-Year-Old Virgin, then mixes in some non-sappy rom-com.

The premise of the movie promises a lot of sex, love, and romance, as Segel’s Peter Bretter pines over his lost love Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), an actress on a CSI-type TV show Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime, for which Peter provides the “ominous” score.

What you might not realize is that this movie will keep you laughing out loud all the way through as Peter tries desperately to recover from the break-up — and what a break-up it is, probably one of the funniest in film history.

The film begins with a montage showing us how the sweatpants-wearing Peter spends his days in his disheveled apartment mainly on the couch watching television while eating enormous bowls of sugary cereal while intermittently working on his music. A phone call from Sarah saying that she’s returned from a trip early and is coming over snaps Peter out of his vegetative routine. He quickly cleans up the house and himself, then greets Sarah with nothing on but a towel, totally expecting some welcome home lovin’. But, instead of jumping his bare bones, Sarah gives Peter the dreaded “We need to talk” line. Down goes the towel and out comes the full-frontal nudity, forcing Sarah to awkwardly state her case to the very in-shock Peter.

From there, Peter goes through the usual stages of break-up recovery, which includes hilarious scenes of rebound sex with some very colorful woman. Eventually, Peter’s stepbrother Brian (Bill Hader) convinces him to go on a vacation to forget about Sarah, so Peter picks Hawaii. Of course, once he gets to Hawaii, Sarah coincidentally is staying at the same resort, though, unlike Peter, she’s not there alone.

The remainder of the film shows Peter trying to cope with having to run into Sarah and her wild and sexy new love Aldous Snow, a British rock star (played to great comedic effect by Russell Brand), everywhere he goes. Luckily, he’s distracted in part by Rachel (Mila Kunis), a beautiful young woman who works at the hotel concierge who takes a liking to him.

Aside from Peter’s humorous actions and reactions to situations he’s faced with, we get some more laughs other from the Apatow gang: Jonah Hill, as a restaurant host man-crushing on Aldous, and Paul Rudd, as a stoner surf instructor with words of wisdom. They all bring the funny, but a lot of the belly laughs come from Brand’s over-the-top rock and roll frontman character (the scene where Aldous sings “Inside of You” is hysterical — you will not be able to get that song out of your head, I swear) and a side story dealing with a young, religious, honeymooning couple having difficulties consummating their marriage (the husband played by 30 Rock‘s lovable NBC page Jack McBrayer).

Another thread through Forgetting Sarah Marshall is Peter’s life-long goal of creating a puppet musical based on the classic Dracula tale. From the DVD’s bonus features, we learn that this was something that Segel was actually working on in real life that he really pushed to get into the film, and it’s something that separates the movie from the average comedy.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a perfect comedy with tons of little winks and nods to pop culture and to the humorous aspects of the mundane.

Bonus Features

This DVD set contains two versions of the film — the original theatrical version and also an extended version, both of which are unrated. It also comes with another disc that contains a digital copy of the film.

DISC 1

Deleted/Extended Scenes: I can see why these scenes didn’t make the cut; there’s too much revealed about the characters that would either ruin later scenes or change our established perceptions of the characters. But it’s a nice peep into what the filmmakers were thinking of doing.

Line-O-Rama: 8-minutes of ad-libing (Funniest piece on the disc)

Gag Reel: not so funny, a lot of scenes with the girls shooing bugs away.

“We’ve Got To Do Something” Music Video: At the beginning of the movie, we see a snippet of this video from Aldous Snow’s band Infant Sorrow. This is the full version, where Aldous pleads that we have to do something about the damage to the environment.

“Dracula’s Lament” (Table Read): There’s a scene in the movie where Peter gets up at a bar and plays one of his songs from the Dracula musical he’s been working on. He sings it in the classic Transylvanian accent of Dracula, which out of context is so much funnier. This feature shows the actors at the table read, where Segel performs the song.

“A Taste For Love”: This is a small making-of documentary of the Dracula musical! Poducer Judd Apatow talks about it how Jason Segel was really writing this Dracula musical and how it was incorporated into the film. We see the people from Jim Henson Company, who were brought on board to create — and in some cases, perform — the puppets in the movie.

Raw Footage (Video Chat): This is the unfinished scene where Peter video chats with Brian, while Brian’s wife Liz listens in. You can tell this was supposed to be a funny scene in the movie — it appeared in every trailer — but it’s kind of an old joke and was unnecessary.

Commentary: Feature-length (including the extended version) commentary by producer Judd Apatow, director Nicholas Stoller, producer Shauna Robertson, executive producer Rodney Rothman, writer/star Jason Segel, and stars Mila Kunis, Russell Brand, Kristien Bell, and Jack McBrayer. I had only planned on watching maybe 10 minutes to get an idea of how it was, and it was so good I ended up watching all of it. If you enjoyed the movie, definitely check out the commentary for extra tidbits.

DISC 2

Deleted Scenes: A few of these are better left out of the film, as they either don’t move the story or perhaps they would have changed the dynamics between the characters. For instance, there’s one where Sarah and Aldous have a fight — this would have cracked the established facade of them as a perfectly happy couple; there’s also an alternate scene where Sarah tries to get back with Peter, which is definitely worth checking out for its use of the “kegel.” But there’s one sequence that was hilarious that really should have been left in, and that’s of Sarah losing control of her horse while horseback riding.

Dracula’s Lament (remixed version): This is an extended version of the flashback scene of Peter singing “Dracula’s Lament” to Sarah. We hear him sing it in his regular voice, and when she still doesn’t “get it,” he tries singing it as if it were B-52s and Tom Waits.

Puppet Breakup: A scene from the Dracula musical that has shows Lucy breaking up with a naked Dracula, which reenacts what happened with Peter and Sarah.

Sex-O-Rama: This is various extra scenes with Peter on his rebound sex romp and all the ways in which it goes awkward and just plain badly.

Drunk-O-Rama: This is an extended scene with Peter at the bar in Hawaii ordering different drinks; worth watching just for his imitation of the ladies from Sex and the City.

Russell Brand as Aldous Snow: Brand’s audition scene is shown, and the director and producer talk about their first impression of him. It turns out, this character was originally supposed to be a high-brow British professor type, but once Brand auditioned, they rewrote the role for him. Because Aldous was a rock star, Segel then also had to write more songs for Russell’s character. We see Brand with a singing coach and then filming of the video for “We Gotta Do Something.”

The Letter “U” with Aldous Snow: Brand in character as the Aldous Snow from Infant Sorrow talking with small children teaching them about letter “U” on a Sesame Street-type show. He sings about the letter “U” to the tune of “Inside of You.”

Crime Scene: In the film, we get a glimpse of Sarah Marshall’s TV show, Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime. This feature contains alternate scenes from that show with Sarah and her partner Hunter (Billy Baldwin), as well as a “Hunter Rush Line-o-Meter” that has Hunter saying his catchphrases “Can you say … ?”

Sarah’s New Show At the end of the film, we get scenes from Sarah’s new television show, which have her star with new partner played by Jason Bateman. Apparently, there were several versions shot of possible new televisions show, all of which are very funny.

Raw Footage: Peter and Aldous in the Lobby: This is unfinished footage of Peter and Aldous sitting in the lobby talking about Sarah.

Video Diaries: This is a set of video diaries from the cast and crew created while the film was in production in Hawaii.

Auditions: Auditions from several of the film’s stars.

Cinemax/Final Cut: This is an uncensored interview with the cast on location in Hawaii — very funny, very informative.

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