Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

forgetting sarah marshall

“He’s like Gandhi! But better — he likes puppets!”

The Scoop: 2008 R, directed by Nicholas Stoller and starring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis

Tagline: A comedy about getting dumped, and taking it like a man.

The Scoop: What do you want to do after a painful breakup? Spend a whole week in close proximity with your ex in Hawaii? Well… okay, not my first answer, but that’ll do, pig, that’ll do.


Justin’s rating: A thousand reviews later, and I still have no idea what this rating line is for.

Justin’s review: I’ve had some pretty spectacular break-ups in my day, and for those who like to stereotype guys as emotionless when it comes to relationships, they don’t know jack.  If I unlock certain scary doors in my memories, I can remember throwing up into a toilet at my summer job after getting “The Talk” over the phone, or running away from college my junior year for a spectacular night, or writing some spectacularly bad poetry that was confiscated by the CIA for use on terrorist prisoners.  It was childish, but really, that’s what break-ups bring out of us.

So when Peter (Jason Segel) gets brutally dumped by his actress girlfriend and then spends the first third of the flick crying, moping and being stupid as stupid does, well… I can relate.

It doesn’t make for great initial viewing, however, the whole guy-crying thing.  I’d heard a lot of great things about Forgetting Sarah Marshall, so by the time we ended Act One and me or my wife had yet to laugh out loud, I was wondering if I’d been hoodwinked.  Happily, the humor ramped up exponentially from there – along with a surprisingly thoughtful script.

FSM creates a completely ludicrous situation – Peter ends up trying to get away from his pain by fleeing to a Hawaiian resort, only to find out that his ex and her new lover are there as well. It’s a silly setup that allows the script to pick apart what exactly happens in a breakup, what stages we go through, and what signs we ignored before it happened.

A small, subtle technique the film uses is with rapid flashbacks while either Peter or Sarah (Kristin Bell) are thinking about the past, often changing our viewpoints of the characters on the fly by doing so.  Peter is both sympathetic and pathetic, a “good guy” who got his heart broken for reasons he’s at a loss to understand, and Sarah is both heartless yet understandable as an actress who stuck with this guy as long as she did.

Since it’s associated with Judd Aptow’s new band of comedy makers, FSM is required to have a few envelope-pushing moments (male full-frontal nudity is just the start of it all), but it doesn’t get quite as raunchy as I had expected.  Instead, the cast of characters begin to grow on you as you learn who they are as they do stuff (particularly Peter, who begins as a very blank slate of a character but has some decent depth) and let their weirdness shine.  It gets funnier as it progresses, with a couple chuckle-worthy moments – although I’m quite stunned to find out that many critics put this on their “funniest comedies of all time/the year” lists.  It’s good, it’s just not all THAT good.

What I liked most in the end was that FSM reversed my expectations.  I absolutely loathe movies where a guy is beaten up (physically or otherwise) until the final part where he starts to stand up for himself, because it becomes an exercise in being mean.  FSM isn’t mean at all – weird, yes; perverted, sometimes; surprising, definitely.  Characters you expect to hate take the wind out of your sails by not being complete caricatures, and even Peter has his moments of idiocy.

Plus, and this is all I should say to get you to want to watch it, there’s a puppet Dracula rock opera.  It doesn’t suck AH AH AH!

This is how Kyle wakes up each and every morning


  • Screenwriter and star Jason Segel told New York Times interviewer Dave Itzkoff that both the naked breakup and Dracula puppet musical scenes were drawn from his real life experiences.
  • Based upon script-writer Jason Segel’s experience of dealing with his break-up from Linda Cardellini, as well as three other breakups (with unspecified women) besides Cardellini.
  • The state fish of Hawaii is truly the Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, as stated in the movie.

Groovy Quotes

Matthew: I have a question for you real quick. What did you think of my demo? Did you get it?
Aldous Snow: I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life.

Surfing Instructor: If you get bitten by a shark, you’re not just gonna give up surfing, are you?
Peter Bretter: Yeah, probably.

Surfing Instructor: I once saw him beat a guy up with a starfish!
Peter Bretter: That’s ridiculous.
Surfing Instructor: That guy was me.

Aldous Snow: [after spilling cranberry juice on his shirt] Oh God, please take my eyes, but not the shirt!

Dwayne the Bartender: He’s like Gandhi! But better – he likes puppets!

Aldous Snow: I mean, I’ve heard that women do fake orgasms, but I’ve never seen it… It really, deeply upset me.

Aldous Snow: How you served five years under her, I don’t know. You deserve a medal, or a holiday or at least a cuddle from somebody.

Aldous Snow: [holding a single sandal] I’ve lost a shoe… have you seen it anywhere? Excuse me, missus, I’ve lost a shoe… like this one. It’s like this one’s fellow… it’s sort of the exact opposite in fact of that – not an evil version but just, you know, a shoe like this… but for the other foot. Otherwise I’d have two right…

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • There’s Something About Mary
  • Knocked Up
  • 50 First Dates


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