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Streaks and geeks

Jason Segel (left) wishes Russell Brand (right) didnít want to ďdo somethingĒ to his ex-girlfriend, Kristen Bell (center).

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Director:Nick Stoller
Cast:Jason Segel, Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell, Russell Brand, Bill Hader
Screen Writer:Nick Stoller
Release Date:2008


Look, man. You guys know who you are.Right this minute, there are folks out there waiting, flush with either trepidation or bitterness, for this thunderiní, steamrolliní Apatow train to hop the rails, once and for all, and fall flaming to the sea like a potty-mouthed Icarus. I know; Iíve seen the forum posts.

Not that I was ever all that terribly concerned about the situation myself (Iíll admit straight away that Iím no Freaks and Geeks o.g., and didnít really start wholeheartedly imbibing the Apatow Kool-Aid until Knocked Up [or maybe the ďAge of AquariusĒ outro at the end of Virgin, at the earliest]), but now, having taken in the Apatow-produced Forgetting Sarah Marshall ó and at the risk of sounding distinctly like a shill ó I donít expect to find myself having second thoughts about trying anything these guys put out for quite some time.

Now, really, Iím on the verge here of committing what is becoming the customary disservice in these matters. Itís a smidge unfair to credit Papa Apatow (Papatow?), to the exclusion of all others, with the success of absolutely everything to which his far-reaching name becomes attached (with the exception of Drillbit Taylor). Certainly, heís an eagle-eyed and prescient scout-cum-incubator of young talent ó a mastermind, really; something akin, perhaps, to what a young
Coppola purportedly was for Lucas and a legion of SoCal filmmakers during the New Hollywood days. Just as certainly, though, the winsome
Superbad owes at least as much to (Apatow find) Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg as it does to its rightly celebrated producer. In much the same way, the uniformly charming (and genuinely uproarious) Sarah Marshall will be, if thereís any justice, just as much a coming-out for surpassingly likable writer-star Jason
Segel (another find) as it will be another feather in Apatowís already-brimming cap.

As of this writing, Iíve seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall twice. Twice, because I wanted to catch the moments drowned by laughter the first time around. And, faith, there were several. Again, not to gush, but itís just the straight truth: Flick was hilarious, both times. The story is nothing overly complex: Dude gets dumped by (famous) woman heíd planned to marry, hits depths of despair, decides to cheer himself up by vacationing in Hawaii ó where, it turns out, his ex is on the romp with a replacement beau/Europop singing sensation/vaguely effete sexual dynamo. (These things happen.) But Segelís vulnerable and acutely perceptive scriptwork (thereís a gut-busting ďhiĒ scene that should indict a fair percentage of viewers) ó which, interestingly, feels decidedly less improvised than Apatowís Knocked Up or Virgin ó hits early with the laughs and endearing ďIíve been thereĒ moments, and doesnít let up.

Itís one of the very few comedic screenplays Iíve encountered, at least recently, in which not a single joke seems to fall flat. (Hot Fuzz, maybe?) And not because it doesnít take risks: One of Segelís most rewarding bits ó which I donít dare ruin ó is an out-there extended musical device thatís not only irresistible, itís reportedly landed Segel a gig writing the next Muppet movie. And speaking of vulnerability and Segelís ďbitsĒ ó well ... the less said, the better. Marshall sports an excellent supporting cast, but itís Segel, really, who provides the heart (watch for a cereal line that neatly sums up his unpretentious appeal). In turn, then, it seems we should thank Apatow heartily for providing the Segel.

In all honesty, I canít remember having more fun in a movie theater over the past few years than Iíve had watching Knocked Up, Superbad, and now, Forgetting Sarah Marshall with packed, howling houses. Something about laughing that hard and that often, in unison with that many people, is a wholly refreshing, almost rejuvenating experience ó one Iíd recommend without reservation to anyone whoís confident he or she can weather a few dick jokes. Sate your fears, fans of Apatow & company: These guys are here to stay. ē

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