Remembering Sarah Marshall

I’ve been meaning to put together a spring/summer movie preview blog entry, but that’ll have to wait for a few more days. For now, I’ll stick with a review of a movie I’ve been looking forward to for a long time: Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

FSM is a funny movie. At times, and for some long stretches, an extremely funny movie. But it’s not just a comedy. It’s also an accurate characterization of relationships and the people that make them. There are scenes in FSM that aren’t funny at all, and they’re not trying to be funny. They’re just little slices of life the way we know it, except with much hotter women.

Plus, there’s full frontal male nudity in the first scene of the movie. This is a bold move, especially for a break-up scene, but I personally think it loosened up the audience. For the women, at least. For the guys, we kind of cringed and looked away, and I was more willing to laugh at the next joke.

The movie avoids one major rom com cliché, the lie that permeates every scene and attempts to create comedy. In fact, at one point where a character could choose to lie (or just avoid the truth), he goes out of his way to tell the truth, and it’s admirable. The one cliché the movie falls into is that the two romantic leads inspire each other to make something of their lives. I’d prefer to watch people make something of their lives simply because they’re driven to do so, not because a guy or girl motivates them to do so. But that’s a minor qualm.

The funniest character in the movie is the sexually extreme British boyfriend of the titular Sarah Marshall. Instead of being the “bad guy” of the movie, he’s quite believable, and quite hilarious. As Jason Segal comments to him at one point, “I want to hate you, but you’re just so cool!”

I’m not a filmmaker, nor am I an expert on any subject, but I detected one aspect of FSM that could have been improved: the editing. From what I understand, editing in movies is the decision to use one shot over another (oftentimes shots of the same scene from different perspective), as well as deciding when to cut from shot to shot or scene to scene. In several scenes in the movie, tighter editing would have provoked more laughs or provided more natural conversation. In a few of the talks between couples, it seemed like they were reading from a script. Not because the acting was bad, but there were so many pauses between sentences and responses that it literally seemed like they were reading from the script and then saying their line.

But overall, this is a great romantic comedy, one I’ll enjoy watching again, and one that’s worth thinking about in terms of how we approach and grow in relationships.