By Clint Morris
Different people take different things from Judd Apatowâ€™s movies â€“ unless you havenâ€™t been to the movies since Marty McFly transported back to 1955 youâ€™d know that heâ€™s the comedy genius behind the raunchy-but-real comedy hits â€œThe 40-Year-Old Virginâ€, â€œKnocked Upâ€, â€œSuperbadâ€, and â€œWalk Hardâ€, the last two of which he just produced didnâ€™t direct (thatâ€™s probably an important point since the directors of â€œSuperbadâ€ and this new one probably do deserve a little bit more credit) â€“ be it a dozen memorable belly laughs, a crush on Seth Rogen (nobody said this was an intelligent analogy), a renewed assurance in modern-day comedies (Apatow has breathed new life into the genre â€“ go rent â€œHead over Heelsâ€ or â€œClerks 2â€ if you donâ€™t believe me) or relief that others out there struggle to hold it together through the nine months lead up to a totâ€™s arrival down the love chute. I, I take home a cure for a cold. The medicine has worked twice now.
Late last year I arose from a flu-induced coma to drag myself off to see â€œSuperbadâ€ – which advance buzz was tagging â€˜the comedy of the yearâ€™ (they couldâ€™ve been right â€“ if only â€œKnocked Upâ€ hadnâ€™t come out six months earlier) – only to walk out of the film feeling refreshed and as unsnotty as George Clooney at an Awards show. The nose was dry, the head was clear, the aches and pains had subsided, and the cough- besides an occasional swallow here and there â€“ had taken the 3:10 to Yuma. I donâ€™t know what Judd Apatow had put in that movie, but whatever he did, it didnâ€™t go down well with the bug that was playing Nintendo with my sinuses â€“ and as a consequence, it found another human pinball parlour to conquer (hopefully someone in the theatre next door watching â€œWild Hogsâ€ â€“ cos they deserve it more than I do).
It was near exactly the same case with the Apatow-produced â€œForgetting Sarah Marshallâ€. Though I was on the tail end of said severe cold this time, the aches and pains that go along with such disturbances were still very much there and the frog in my throat had yet to find a new lily-pad to squat on, so it was a bit of an effort to dust myself off â€“ I sound like a frickinâ€™ wall unit, donâ€™t I? â€“ and travel an hour â€˜that wayâ€™ to see a movie. But I did. I had to. Judd Apatow has nothing but good for me â€“ not only has he helped me rid of a cold, heâ€™s given me four generally pleasing film experiences over the past couple of years, and considering Iâ€™ve only had about 5 of â€˜em â€“ generally pleasing film experiences â€“ that says a lot. I owed it to him to attend.
Once again, Apatow did not let me down â€“ I left â€œSarah Marshallâ€ with both a smile on my face and, perhaps more importantly, a clear head and a voice that didnâ€™t resemble Demi Moore after sheâ€™d just given Ashton his early morning birthday present.
Apatow â€“ and his team â€“ knows exactly what it takes to make a good comedy : You take a pretty straight-forward storyline and you spice it up with imaginative, witty jokes and dialogue; terrific performers and bunions of pop-culture references. Mainly, Apatowâ€™s films work so well because theyâ€™re as real as theyâ€™re ridiculous â€“ not once can you honestly say that the events of, well, â€œKnocked Upâ€ or â€œSarah Marshallâ€ couldnâ€™t happen, they most certainly could. And as taboo and silly as those mini-events and occurrences within the film may be, Apatow isnâ€™t afraid to put them up there on the screenâ€¦. Heâ€™s not afraid to go that extra mile for a laugh (like in this film heâ€™s not afraid to resort to cutting to the lead starâ€™s exposed penis for a gag – – – sounds sick, and it is, but it works. Try NOT laughing!) or to remind us of something that â€˜we didnâ€™t know others knew aboutâ€™.
â€œForgetting Sarah Marshallâ€ has a pretty straight-forward storyline â€“ guy (Jason Segel of ”Knocked Up”) is dumped by his superstar girlfriend (Kristen Bell), guy goes to Hawaii to get over her, guy bumps into girlfriend and her new screw-loose boyfriend (Russell Brand) whilst there, guy ends up falling for local island girl (Mila Kunis of â€œThat 70s Showâ€) â€“ and in anyone elseâ€™s hands, it couldâ€™ve easily turned out like any other romantic comedy that follows a similar storyline (like, say, for instance, the recent Farrelly Brothersâ€™ comedy â€œThe Heartbreak Kidâ€ â€“ which blew!) â€“ not especially funny, kinda lazy and as predictable as powder near water. And, to be fair, â€œSarah Marshallâ€ does suffer from the common discrepancies in a few spots â€“ itâ€™s a little conventional towards the end, the toneâ€™s a bit messy in a couple of spots, and none of the characters are especially very redeemable.
Having said that, you will laugh your ass off for a good hour of it â€“if not more – because of the divine performances (everyone in the film is absolutely terrific! â€“ most of the Apatow regulars are here; Segel, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader, Jonah Hill) and the stupendous writing!
Apatow and his team â€“ Nicholas Stoller directed this one â€“ could probably rework â€œAnother Stakeoutâ€ or â€œThe Whole Ten Yardsâ€ and make them funny â€“ theyâ€™re that good at what they do!
â€œForgetting Sarah Marshallâ€ isnâ€™t quite of the caliber of â€œKnocked Upâ€, it might not even be as consistently funny or memorable as â€œSuperbadâ€, but itâ€™s still another win for Apatow Productions. Bring on the next, Judd!
Your doctor recommends it.
There’s still some good stuff on here. There’s a commentary by cast and crew, some amusing B-roll footage, a fantastic (and I don’t use that word loosely!) blooper reel, a music video by Elvis Snow (heh) and some deleted/extended scenes – cut for good reason, but all worth a look. Make sure you get the 2-disc version!