There's a disturbing trend amongst reviews for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and it has to do with a penis. Be prepared when the theater lights dim, for you will see dong. Instead of being hung up on the rare glimpse of cinematic cockery, let's think of just what that schlong symbolizes.
Jason Segel, who plays the jilted Peter, sets the tone of the film early on by displaying his junk in all its floppy glory. And just what is the tone of a flaccid meat stick? Awkward, humiliating and hilarious all wrapped up in a foreskin of masculinity. That's what Judd Apatow's crew does, they make romantic comedies for immature men. It's about feeling lost, frustrated and obsessed with your own dick.
The premise has gotten plenty of coverage, but in case you missed it, here's the download. Produced by Apatow, directed by Nick Stoller, written and starring Jason Segel, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the story of Peter, a bored TV musician who is dumped by his TV star girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). When he runs off to Hawaii to defeat depression he runs right into Sarah and her new beau, a British pop star named Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Hijinx, not unlike the pedestrian rom-com, ensue.
What makes the story not-so-pedestrian isn't the plot so much as it is that sad summer sausage. That drooping dingus is Peter. He's impotent, crushed by the girl he loves, but there's no forced quest to win her back. Instead the narrative follows him as he cries, pines, drinks and screws his sorrow away. The story is less concerned with Peter finding love as it is with letting him heal.
Of course, there is new love to be found along the way with Hawaiian hotel hottie Rachel (Mila Kunis), but even then, that stumbling, inept -- and completely lovable and recognizable -- weiner has trepidation about what to do with his heart. While the plot may be predictable at times, the character reactions are not. The humor, like most other Apatow joints, is oddly naturalistic and absurd at the same time. It's a treat to see a film that ultimately does pander to the tropes of a love story, but gets you there in a different enough fashion that you enjoy it.
What struck me most were that all the characters were likable. Though we're set up to hate her, Sarah Marshall has excellent reasons to dump Peter. And while he may seem to be the romantic foil, Aldous ends up being too charming to actually hate. Even Peter realizes that the guy is actually pretty cool.
While the Apatow crew may not make films that everybody appreciates, I for one would watch this movie a thousand times over before something like Sleepless in Seattle, Fool's Gold or anything Hugh Grant is in. Sorry, I guess I'd prefer to see Meg Ryan barfing before a blowjob or Tom Hanks crying as he masturbates on top of the Empire State Building. At least then I'd feel like it was closer to my universe.
Seth lives in Los Angeles. He is a writer of comic books (and unsold screenplays) and...