OCTOBER 11, 2008
GENRE: OCTOBER EXTRAS 2
SOURCE: DVD (BLU-RAY)
LAST SEEN: APRIL 2008 (THEATRICAL)
Of all the Apatow movies that Apatow himself did not direct, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the one that copies his formula the closest. Other films in the Apatow canon are more ridiculous (Anchorman, Walk Hard), or in the case of Superbad or Drillbit Taylor, simply about a younger group of people. But Marshall, like 40 Year Old Virgin or Knocked Up, is about a guy who needs to grow up, and Paul Rudd helps him.
Rudd is, of course, one of the many Apatow regulars who pop up in the film to provide laughs and extend the running time. Many people complain about the length of Virgin or Knocked Up, but they are actually pretty tight in terms of storytelling; there isn’t a lot of superfluous stuff that is there solely for laughs. But that’s not so much the case here; while Rudd, Jonah Hill, and Jack McBrayer’s characters are amusing, they never really advance the plot much, if at all, and while it’s a bit shorter than Knocked, it could be even shorter if they really wanted to be more selective during the editing process. Sure, Hill has one of the film’s most quotable lines (“I just went from six to midnight”), but really, would his character be missed if removed entirely? Peter would still fall for Mila Kunis’ character, Sarah Marshall would still move on with her career, and Russell Brand would still steal the movie away from his better known co-stars.
This is the 3rd time I’ve watched the film, and like most comedies, a lot of the things that made me laugh hysterically the first time around no longer have much effect on me (even the scene where Pulse is torn apart, a joke that literally made me fall out of my chair the first time I saw it, only elicited a smirk this time around). But not Brand’s Aldous Snow. His work continues to impress and amuse, and I would hate to think that the bit where he spills wine on the ugly shirt that Sarah made him wear would ever fail to make me laugh. Also, he seemingly comments on the movie’s plot for the audience at times; “We’re doing this... this is actually... happening,” he mutters as the movie begins its inevitable “let’s have the mismatched couples have an awkward double date” scene. The only disappointment in the cast is Bill Hader, who I love on SNL but doesn’t get a single real laugh here, and again, his scenes only really advance the running time (the early ones are OK, but the Ichat stuff is worthless).
One character that I am sure would make me laugh is the beautiful and hilarious Kristen Wiig, who plays a yoga instructor. I saw the film at a test screening and in its final cut, and neither version had her character. I found this odd, as the shooting of her scene was what was occurring when press was flown in for set visits, and Rudd, Hill, and others who weren’t in the scene came by just to watch her genius at work. So I was all excited to rent the “unrated” version as her scene was put back into the movie. But nope. Apparently the Blu-Ray “unrated” version just has the theatrical cut (best I could tell anyway). Maybe both are on there, but if so the theatrical version is not mentioned on the box art, and I saw no way of accessing any other version. And I don’t have the time or the inclination to watch it a 4th time just to see her scenes and the other stuff that was put back in, so I am kind of bummed. Stupid Blu-Ray!
What I like about the movie is how relatable it is. None of the characters are perfect, and a lot of the things they bicker about ring true. I also like how they quickly fill in character development via montages. Like when Aldous complains about the shirt, Sarah remembers how Peter would always wear the god awful shit she would buy for him. Sarah realizes two important things (that Peter is a caring guy, and that she is hardly perfect) in about 10 seconds, and we get a couple of laughs out of the deal. Like The Break Up, in order for the film to work, you have to understand that these two really cared about each other at one point, but you can’t spend too much time of them together when the movie is actually about their split.
I also love the Dracula musical stuff. A lot of people have commented that his songs sound like Meat Loaf (they mean Jim Steinman, but I’ve simply accepted this ignorance), and they are “right”. I would pay handsomely for a full version of the show, if only to hear "Dracula’s Lament" (“blood will run down his face, when he is de-cap-i-tated! AH HAH HA HA!”) with the puppets/set accompanying it, instead of Jason Segel at a keyboard in a Tiki bar. I also love Peter’s odd little bit about seeing a psychiatrist (not on the soundtrack, which pissed me off). The DVD has a karaoke version of all the original songs in the film, so I guess it evens out.
And that’s just one of the numerous extras on the disc, and even better: many of them are actually funny. A lot of them focus on Russell Brand, which is fine by me. His entire “We’ve Got To Do Something” video is included, as is a truly hilarious and strange bit where he appears on Sesame Street to discuss the letter U. Then there about a half hours’ worth of alternate adlib takes from throughout the movie, plus a commentary, cast auditions, other deleted scenes... it would take four hours to go through the entire extras package, so I didn’t get to it all. What I saw was mostly worth watching though, so that’s good.
It may lack the finesse of the Apatow directed films, but it’s still a worthy addition to his ever expanding empire. Even if I’m no longer laughing at the jokes, I still enjoy watching the movie, and for a cast without a single big star (all of them known for ensemble/TV work), I’m happy it found a big audience in the middle of a seeming Apatow backlash. Kudos.
What say you?