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Forgetting Sarah Marshall (review)

Forget It

Musician and composer Peter Bretter (Jason Segel: Knocked Up) is heartbroken over the breakup with his girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell: Heroes, Spartan) — he’s inconsolable, even. Fair enough; they were together for more than five years, so this seems, at first, like a reasonable response. So why does Forgetting Sarah Marshall taunt Peter for being emotional? Why, because tender emotions are the province of mere women. I mean, my god: A real man scarfs giant bowls of Froot Loops while lounging around in week-old sweatpants. A real man does not cry, at all, ever. Certainly not while trying to get his girlfriend to “talk” about her dumping him. Certainly not while having loveless rebound sex in an attempt to wipe from his mind the hurt she inflicted upon him.
It’s really hard to like a character when his own movie makes fun of him. And much comedy is mined here — if you find humiliation funny, that is — from Peter’s “sensitivity,” as if there were something funny about his pain and suffering. As if there were something funny about men feeling anything other than mindlessly horny 24/7. Which is truly bizarre a tack for Forgetting Sarah Marshall to take when its entire premise is built, apparently, upon the notion that it’s tough for a guy to get over heartbreak. So either it’s true that men feel more deeply than we’re “supposed” to think they do, and hence are worthy of our sympathies, or they don’t, and hence deserve to be jeered at for being woosy girly men. Which is it?

Oh, but you’re not supposed to “think” about a movie like Forgetting Sarah Marshall — in fact, it’s better if you don’t think at all. Then, perhaps, you’ll actually find it shocking and outrageous when Segel appears full-frontally starkers for no reason that makes sense within the context of the ostensible themes of the film, and makes sense only of you’re not paying particular attention to anything except your own desire for a juvenile grossout. (Not that there’s anything gross about the human body except in the eyes of movies like this, of course.) It’s better if you don’t think too much because then you can ignore the ridiculous coincidence that sends Peter, in his continuing attempts to forget Sarah, on a vacation to a resort in Hawaii… where Sarah and her new boyfriend just happen to be staying, too. And definitely don’t think too much about why Peter doesn’t just turn around and leave, go somewhere else… except, of course, that there wouldn’t be a movie if he had done that. But that’s an excuse we’ve heard a lot of these days when it comes to idiotic movies, and it just doesn’t cut it: If there wouldn’t be a movie if not for the absurdity of its own premise that the writer couldn’t be bothered to justify within the context of the story, then, you know, maybe there shouldn’t be a movie at all.

But wait. It gets worse. A sincere depiction of a sensitive male romantic lead would be a welcome thing, but Peter is an unappealing drip — though it’s hard to tell whether that’s because the movie doesn’t like him very much or because he’d have been a drip anyway. And we have absolutely no evidence of anything that brought Peter and Sarah together in the first place — we have no idea what they ever saw in each other. Peter’s moaning and moping, which gets more unbearable and more unbelievable the more he puts himself in Sarah’s path, appears to be the result of the screenwriter mistaking tedious minutiae for honesty. (The screenwriter is first-timer Segel himself; the director is his fellow Undeclared vet Nicholas Stoller, also making his feature debut.)

And yet, as if, apparently, to make up for Peter’s unrelenting and unpleasant dreariness, the movie is stuffed with random pointless asides about, oh, bartenders who know all the fish in the area and pothead surf instructors and sex-crazed British rock stars. Paul Rudd and Russell Brand, respectively in the latter roles, are the best things here, are full of snappy energy and offbeat charm that the rest of the movie lacks, but it’s like they’ve been imported at great expense from another story entirely. They only highlight how much Peter’s tale feels like it’s dragging itself through goopy mud… and how little it can barely even bother itself to make the effort.


MPAA: rated R for sexual content, language and some graphic nudity

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
  • Spencer

    To avoid both of us the frustration, I’ll keep my comments to wondering why you don’t see the sympathetic side to the humor regarding Peter’s emotional response to the breakup.

    For one thing, it is written by Segel in a role he plays, which would speak volumes against a hard-heartedly cruel interpretation of finding humor in his hurt. For another, I just can’t believe that you really think that pain at a breakup simply cannot be funny on some level, at the very least in a personal retrospective fashion, which given the screenwriter is entirely plausible.

    All of Apatow’s movies which have him in more than a producing role and utilize Freaks and Geeks/Undeclared alumni I see as over-the-top yet sympathetic portraits and critiques of a particular slice of American masculinity. The changes the characters undergo during the movies indicate that while the events portrayed in the setup and payoff of the premise might be funny in a frat-boy sort of way, they are not particularly admirable or desirable ways to live your life. Thus we see Peter getting his act together and becoming a much more mature and productive member of society by pursuing his dream and taking the incredibly vulnerable step of putting them out there and open to critique (i.e., the Avenue Q-esque Dracula rock opera– incidentally, I think Stephanie D’Abruzzo made a cameo here).

    Movies like FSM are sympathetic in that they don’t try to preach at the slice of masculinity they represent, which would just shut them down. These movies also do not overtly and dogmatically condemn them. They instead toe a very delicate line (and, I think, do so admirably) between allowing the audience to laugh along with (and, if they see fit, at) the antics of the characters, and then they insert overtly the heart and the message of the movie which was only implicit before: essentially, that staying perpetually adolescent is funny and all for a bit, but at some point one must wake up and enter the real world with all its responsibilities. If one has not shut down by this point due to the raunch and crudity, then one is able to see what the bulk of people have: that these movies have sweet and meaningful hearts underneath the veneer of juvenility.

    So to tie this all together in relation to Peter’s emotional response to the breakup, I see FSM as incorporating elements of the above gently chiding sympathetic portrait with a style present in “40 Year-Old Virgin,” in which the hero learns that while certain aspects of his adolescent outlook might need to change (i.e., coasting through life in a minimum-wage job playing video games vs. coasting through life eating Fruit Loops on the couch), his essential character is just fine the way it is (i.e., there’s nothing wrong with being a virgin vs. there’s nothing wrong with being a sensitive man hurt by a breakup). We are given absolutely no indication that post-Marshall Peter is any less sensitive than he was at the beginning of the movie. While I think that the nudity was mostly played for cheap and immature laughs, one could make the argument that they serve as bookend scenes which highlight Peter’s vulnerability. This is the sympathy underlying the laughter at Peter’s emotional response: that while he changes as a person and grows up as a result of this breakup, THAT ASPECT OF HIS CHARACTER remains untouched– it doesn’t need to be changed.

  • Chris

    Man I swear you just hate everything that any of the Freaks and Geeks crew puts out. You dont seem to get that most young males, mostly ages 16 all the way to 30, relate with these male characters or at least know someone like the main character. He isnt the most attractive guy, he isnt driven to perfection, and he is a slob just like most of us. This film is a decent look at how most men handle being dumped. In this movie we get the crying baby, the man looking for a rebound and the man that some how still believes that he is going to get back with his old flame. The film then shows us how he moves on. It also shows that sometimes in the case of the woman she might not realize until it’s too late that she already had a great guy. Also as far your comment on the full frontal scene, Segal has stated before that he put that scene in the movie because he has had that exact scenario happen to him before. Is the humor crude, yes it is no worse than the scenes of There’s Something About Mary.

  • Rick

    My fiancee and I saw this yesterday, and we LOVED it. It was at times hilarious, at times very touching, and very entertaining. It was written well enough that characters who would normally be “villains” in more simplistic movies get a chance to show their own humanity, and in the end, nobody is the “bad guy”, they’re just people muddling through.

    Here’s the thing – you keep presenting your reviews of “Apatow Gang” movies as if all the characters have to be either/or propositions, but very few real people are like that. Peter is both pathetic (understandably so) and sympathetic (because he’s human). And Peter at his most pathetic is funny because, if you’ve been through anything like a bad breakup and taken it hard and moped around and cried your eyes out, at some point down the road, when you’re in a better place (and assuming you have a sense of humor about yourself), you’ll look back and laugh at how ridiculous it all was.

    That’s why it’s funny when Peter is lying on the floor crying with a beautiful Hawaiian sunset out the window: we’ve all (probably) been there, in that place where we don’t even notice how amazingly beautiful the world is because we’re so deep in our own misery, but it’s going to pass, and then we’ll be able to recognize the beauty again. We laugh at the familiarity and humanity of it.

    Getting back to the either/or issue: none of us would be worth a damn if we were judged as harshly for our worst moments as you’ve tended to judge the characters in most of Apatow’s movies over the last 18 months. The thing is, we ALL make mistakes. We ALL say things we wish we hadn’t, things that hurt other people or have ramifications beyond anything we intended. We ALL have made a hash of a situation because we didn’t read things properly or recognize something that, in hindsight, was REALLY obvious. That’s part of being human, and that’s why I love the characters in “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, “Knocked Up”, “Superbad”, and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” – they make mistakes (just like real people do) and try (but sometimes fail) to do better (just like real people do).

    Judd’s movies are about people who are imperfect, but not in the perfunctory way that most movies use for shorthand (ie, “he’s a man of action, but he forgets to call his daughter on her birthday because he’s so busy saving the world”). They’re imperfect like real people, and they try to deal with that like real people: recognize when you screw up, apologize if you hurt somebody, try to learn from it and do better. And keep trying, because you’ll probably never get it 100% right.

  • JT

    I really hated this movie too. Thought it was lazy and predictable tripe. But I disagree with the statement that “It’s really hard to like a character when his own movie makes fun of him.”

  • Madgadabout

    I, too, had some problems seeing what brought them together in the first place. Sarah Marshall seems like a completely self-involved twit and Peter Bretter seems like the fairly pathetic man-child that has come into vogue. Are these really the archtypes for contemporary relationships? Is that how a movie like this makes it to 85% on rotten tomatoes?

  • Ryan

    I wrote like 20 responses to this review, and then deleted them all. I enjoyed this movie on it’s merits, you did not…I get the sense nothing I type will change your mind. I think maybe that you are over-thinking these, however. Unless a comedy is a satire, it is a genre that can be forgiven for exchanging some believability of plot for humor.

  • MaryAnn

    Spencer wrote:

    I just can’t believe that you really think that pain at a breakup simply cannot be funny on some level,

    Did I say that? Did I imply that? No, I didn’t. I just don’t see that it’s treated as humorous *and* human here.

    Chris wrote:

    Man I swear you just hate everything that any of the Freaks and Geeks crew puts out.

    No, I don’t. *Freaks and Geeks* and *Undeclared* are brilliant (as I wrote here about *Undeclared*).

    At least have the courtesy of being honest if you’re going to (attempt to) insult me.

    Chris again:

    He isnt the most attractive guy, he isnt driven to perfection, and he is a slob just like most of us.

    I can see that that might be the case. But the movie makes fun of Peter’s vulnerability. How can that possibly appeal to you? The movie is saying that you’re a woosy girly man if you demonstrate that you have human emotions. That’s okay with you?

    Segal has stated before that he put that scene in the movie because he has had that exact scenario happen to him before.

    I’m sure that’s true. It’s the way that is depicted here that is the problem. I honestly do not understand that so many people seem not to get the concept that almost anything can work onscreen — it’s *how* it’s treated where the problems come in. In this instance, as I’ve already discussed, it’s the *how* of this nudity that is the problem, not the nudity itself. This movie acts as if most adults will be shocked at what the male body looks like. Which is bullshit. Do you know what a penis looks like? I know what a penis looks like. I think we all do.

    Rick wrote:

    you keep presenting your reviews of “Apatow Gang” movies as if all the characters have to be either/or propositions, but very few real people are like that.

    I agree (that people aren’t like that, that is). People are complicated. But these movies make fun of us in our vulnerability. I see that as dishonest and unfair. I didn’t want to laugh at Peter — I wanted to cry with him, because of course I’ve been in a similar position as he’s in. But this movie didn’t want to let me do that.

    More from Rick:

    Judd’s movies are about people who are imperfect

    Well, you know, everyone is imperfect. I wish the Apatow-gang movies acknowledged that that’s a human place to be, and not a place that we should laugh at.

    Ryan wrote:

    it is a genre that can be forgiven for exchanging some believability of plot for humor.

    I’ll agree with that. But I don’t think it can sacrifice character for humor.

  • Phil Urich

    I get it, you’re sad that there will never be any more Freaks And Geeks, nor even Undeclared. It’s depressing, I know. I say this because without having even seen this movie I knew beforehand precisely what you were going to write in your review, and so yes, I don’t know for sure how accurate it is but it strikes the *exact* same tone as your other recent Apatow reviews, and I get the impression that it almost doesn’t matter what the content of the movie is, the review will turn out the same. Which is a shame, because normally I find your reviews quite insightful, and to be able to know what you’ll say ahead of time tells me that something is seriously disconnected here.

    (Did you catch Apatow on the Daily Show a few days back? Since you’re finding so much to hate in everything he’s behind these days , I’d recommend watching his interview with Jon Stewart so you can at least go “aha! He is still funny, yay”)

  • MaryAnn

    I get it, you’re sad that there will never be any more Freaks And Geeks, nor even Undeclared.

    No, not really.

    I don’t know for sure how accurate it is but it strikes the *exact* same tone as your other recent Apatow reviews, and I get the impression that it almost doesn’t matter what the content of the movie is, the review will turn out the same.

    *Of course* it matters what the content of the movie is! Do you seriously, honestly believe that it does not? But if the movies all strike the same tone, why would you seriously, honestly believe that my reviews would not?

  • Scott P

    I haven’t laughed so hard in the movie theatre since seeing, well, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Yes, it IS funny & we like to to laugh at poor saps like Carell & Segel. Not every comedy has to be hilarious & intellectually deep– some comedies (like this one) are just hilarious & that’s more than enough for me.

    After reading Mary Ann’s review in which anyone who finds humor in Peter’s “humiliation” & “pain & suffering” gets scolded, I thought of the classic comedies “10″ & “Arthur” & how hilarious Dudley Moore’s pathetic characters were.

    Thank goodness movie execs don’t follow Mary Ann’s advice that “If there wouldn’t be a movie if not for the absurdity of its own premise that the writer couldn’t be bothered to justify within the context of the story, then, you know, maybe there shouldn’t be a movie at all.” Dudley Moore rescued Bo Derek’s husband…so she agrees to sleep with Dudley while her hubby recovers. Yeah, that premise makes a whole lot of sense. Movies in which they shoot rockets into space in order to land on & destroy approaching asteroids makes perfect sense too. But I digress.

    Spoiler alert!
    I can’t believe you neglected to mention the sexually-awkward newlyweds (Jack “in search of the mythical clitoris” McBrayer & Maria “Christ between her thighs” Thayer) or the Dracula rock-opera. When Peter sang the Dracula love theme for Rachell at the locals bar, I laughed until tears rolled down my face.

  • Brett

    I dunno…I guess I don’t see why people are arguing with MaryAnn on this. She dislikes most of what the Apatow crew are putting out (although she dug Walk Hard, so that kind of kills the whole “You hate Apatow and any films that have his hand in them” argument). I don’t really agree with her, but it’s all opinion.

    Plus, it’s comedy, the most subjective genre in the world! I don’t go out of my way to argue with people who don’t share my opinions on what is funny or what isn’t because I know that when I don’t think something is funny, it just isn’t. Arguing about it really won’t change anyone’s mind.

  • Rick

    Brett – personally, I’m not arguing with MaryAnn. I realize that comedy, in particular, is very subjective. I posted what I posted because this is a popular review site, and I’m hoping that anybody who reads the negative review will also read the comments and be curious enough to see the movie themselves, rather than just “Skipping It”.

    Also, “Walk Hard” isn’t really an “Apatow Gang” movie. While he did act as a producer, it doesn’t feature anybody from “Freaks and Geeks” or “Undeclared”, and is more stylistically influenced by Jake Kasdan (though Judd did co-write the script). The same applies to “Anchorman” and “Talladega Nights” – while Judd was a producer, they’re much more Will Ferrell/Adam McKay movies. That said, I was surprised that MaryAnn liked both “Talladega Nights” and “Walk Hard”, particularly the former, given her previous dislike of Will Ferrell’s movies (which I generally find wildly uneven).

  • Spencer

    MaryAnn– in the sentence you quoted from me, I did not mean to give the impression I was attributing that sentiment to you. I was trying to make the point that in criticizing laughing at someone’s pain (in a movie), there are only two reasons I can see why this criticism would be put forth: 1) pain of this kind is never funny, or 2) it is funny when done a certain way, and in this movie it is not done properly. I was actually attempting to be charitable and ruling out (1) outright since I did not believe you would hold such a ludicrous position.

    The bulk of my comment was attempting to make two points: 1) that the humor was for me done correctly, and why; and 2) that the motive I believe you impute to the movie (i.e., making fun of a sensitive man in a cruel or otherwise less than admirable fashion) I simply cannot see at all from the presentation on screen. Rick is making the same point as well, at least insofar as he and I saw the same positives to the movie (and other Apatow brands).

    And this part is for anyone who thinks I or anyoe else am “arguing” with MaryAnn on an objective level: lest you think that I am attempting to infringe on your subjective response, I assure you I am not. At least, I am not attempting to infringe on the subjectivity of it by presenting an objective critique. I am presenting my own subjective response, with my subjective perceptions of your subjective response, and asking if you see any (subjective) validity to these sentiments.

    This is the type of dialogue I am trying to present, and it’s your perogative to refuse to engage in that dialogue. In a response to Chris, you stated “But the movie makes fun of Peter’s vulnerability. How can that possibly appeal to you? The movie is saying that you’re a woosy girly man if you demonstrate that you have human emotions. That’s okay with you?” I am attempting to present a position that 1) I saw nothing of the kind in the movie, and 2) because of this and the underlying pathos I did see in the presentation, I enjoy the movie on those merits.

    I suppose I could just take the tack of some and say simply, “Well, I liked it and that’s that; que sera.” And since I really fell in love with your reviews for your geek sensibilities, perhaps that’s wise on non-geek films. However, I prefer to present rationale for my position rather than bald assertion, and I hope to (and love) engaging others in a dialogue about the myriad and gloriously diverse ways people see art. The deeper point of this enterprise for me is to widen my horizons and test different points of view. Therefore, it makes little sense to me for two people to just say, “Well, I see it like A;” “Well, I see it like B,” and leave it at that. “What about this angle? Have you considered this point? What is your response to this criticism?”– that is my intention in commenting.

  • Moe

    MJ, you’re one of my fave critics but we will never see eye to eye on Apatow’s films. Hence, i will stop taking your advice when it comes to these comedies.

    40 yr old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad and this are some of the funniest films of the 21 century but i suppose they don’t appeal to certain demographics.

    I mean, jesus, you even hated Harold and Kumar!?!
    I don’t know a single person in my life who doesn’t love that film and i know a lot.

    I’m very curious as to what you have to say about H&K 2.

  • Spencer

    You don’t know me, but I (obviously) like Apatow’s Freaks and Geeks/Undeclared movies and I did not like H&K (sans mind-alterings substances, that is… I haven’t and don’t want to try it with them). So there.

    On the whole, though, you have good advice. I think I should take it. Sorry, MaryAnn, for subjecting you to my frustrations.

  • MaryAnn

    Not every comedy has to be hilarious & intellectually deep

    Did I say it did?

    MJ, you’re one of my fave critics but we will never see eye to eye on Apatow’s films. Hence, i will stop taking your advice when it comes to these comedies.

    Great! No one should automatically take my advice on any film.

    40 yr old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad and this are some of the funniest films of the 21 century but i suppose they don’t appeal to certain demographics.

    I’m not a demographic. I’m a person. And I like a lot of movies that supposedly are not “supposed” to appeal to me.

    I mean, jesus, you even hated Harold and Kumar!?!
    I don’t know a single person in my life who doesn’t love that film and i know a lot.

    Well, now you know a person who doesn’t like that film.

    I’m very curious as to what you have to say about H&K 2.

    It’s not going to screen for critics — which tells you what the studio thinks of it right there — and I have no plans to see it. The title infuriates me, though, which is probably something I will write about.

  • JoshDM

    I thoroughly enjoyed 40 Year Old Virgin.

    I was excited to see Knocked Up. I was bored by it.

    I was excited to see Superbad. I enjoyed it.

    I have no desire to see this movie, but the part in the trailer where Jonah Hill calls for a table for one is hilarity defined.

  • JT

    That scene is not even in the movie actually.

  • JoshDM

    If it isn’t, then I shall have to settle for film delivery via the flix of net.

  • Justin

    you interpreted it as making fun of him but it’s not, even he says this is based on his real life and I can identify with him and this is not a mockery and men take rejection just as hard as women

  • Jon Owen

    Hello again Mary,

    It’s such a great pleasure to read your reviews as you have a unique and intellectual perspective. I suspected “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” would irritate you as you don’t suffer fools gladly.
    Maybe a comedy like “Metropolitan” would suit you more given the more rarefied, highbrow humor. It’s about a New York society clique of young people welcoming a guy from the wrong side of town.

  • MaryAnn

    I’ve seen *Metropolitan,* and I like it okay. It’s hardly one of my favorite movies or anything.

  • tim

    Cheap mexican food is the same 5-6 ingredients arranged in a different manner, and cooked by different means, but it all tastes the same in the end. This, to me, is the metaphor for the Apatow brand name in film right now. The whole Apatow Universe reminds me a little of Kevin Smith and the empire he started to build in the mid-90′s that ultimately fizzled out (and hey, Seth Rogen is in Kevin Smith’s new film).

  • amanohyo

    Woah now, I grew up in San Antonio and although I’m no food expert, cheap enchiladas taste nothing like cheap tamales or cheap fajitas. I get your analogy, but I think you mean cheap Mexican fast food. More specifically, Taco Bell food. Even “high end” fast food from Baja Fresh and Chipotle has some variety.

    Sorry to whine, but I love Mexican food, and sometimes the cheapest places are the most satisfying. Also if the Apatow brand becomes as successful and long-lasting as the Taco Bell brand, he’d be more than satisfied. I doubt that’ll happen, but Apatow has definitely shown that he’s got more range than Kevin Smith.

  • Butch

    good grief. I just saw this movie, and it is just plain funny. Great supporting cast and self depreciating humor is pretty much what makes EVERY guy in the world laugh. There’s Something About Mary? Remember? You cannot overanalyze comedy, I would even say you cannot review it. Your review, if you feel you must publish for the world, should be one sentence long and only contain two words:

    its funny.

    OR

    not funny.

    you may also want to include:

    to me.

    I think most guys have been cheated on and/or dumped so don’t feel like you are the only one who has been to that horrible place. That was why I was able to laugh because it is not a permanent disaster. You get over it, you move on. If you are lucky you get to hook up with Mila Kunis.

    There are so few good comedies with any intelligence to them. I would hope you could get behind those few.

  • amanohyo

    So Butch, are you saying that it doesn’t matter why something is funny? Is there only a single kind of funny? What about movies that only have elements of comedy in them? Are we allowed to review those? What are those last two paragraphs of yours doing?

    I know overthinking things can be bad, but maybe you should spend a little more time thinking through your list of commandments before you seize control of the internets. You could further streamline your reign by dictating that all reviews be reduced to:

    A) It was entertaining.
    B) It was not entertaining.

    (to me)

    Maybe you could employ an innovative graphical system to indicate which of the choices the reviewer had selected, that way we wouldn’t have to deal with words at all. I humbly submit that a raised thumb and a lowered thumb would serve the masses well.

  • MaryAnn

    self depreciating humor is pretty much what makes EVERY guy in the world laugh.

    It makes me laugh too. But I didn’t see this as self-deprecating. I saw it as self-hating.

    There’s Something About Mary? Remember?

    If you had bothered to read my review of that film, you’d know what I think of it. (Hint: It’s worse than this one.)

    You cannot overanalyze comedy, I would even say you cannot review it.

    So then why did you seek out a review of this film?

    you may also want to include:

    to me.

    In what way is that not implicit in every single review of anything written by anyone?

  • tim

    amanohyo, I like mexican food. Cheap, expensive, and everything in between (I live in Arizona, so plenty of options). My metaphor wasn’t an insult or compliment – just simply that the Apatow universe (like the View Askuniverse of K. Smith) feels interchangeable to me. It’s the same type of character in the same type of situation in the same type of context.

  • amanohyo

    I gotcha tim, just making sure you weren’t assuming that all cheap Mexican food had to taste the same. Some of my relatives are from a tiny midwest town, and they’re convinced that Taco Bell accurately represents all Mexican food. It bugs me.

    That phrase “Apatow universe” is kind of frightening. Even if such a monstrous thing has truly been forged, I think it has a better chance of changing into something genuinely interesting before it collapses than the View Askuniverse ever did. But this movie doesn’t strengthen my optimism.

  • Mike

    Don’t quit your day job……Unless I personally thought that your opinion had merit, I will probably see this movie 10 times. I love “critics” and the attempt to take a high road against humor pointed towards “random pointless asides about, oh, bartenders who know all the fish in the area and pothead surf instructors and sex-crazed British rock stars”. Somewhere inside of you there is a teenage girl that wants to laugh. A girl that has not been hardened by the world or feel the need to bash a masterpiece. Let that girl out and you will find this movie much more enjoyable. If I were a critic to the masses, I would sum this movie up in one word…awesome.

  • MaryAnn

    Somewhere inside of you there is a teenage girl that wants to laugh.

    Riiight. Cuz that could be the only possible explanation that someone would disagree with you — secretly, I really do think Just Like You.

    And this is my day job. And I’m not a critic for the masses.

  • Mike

    Truth of the matter is…I do not think this movie is a masterpiece. On the other hand, I think a little brainless humor could do this world some good. Your review was well written and very thoughtful, and you are very good at your job.

  • MaryAnn

    I think there’s plenty brainlessness in the world already. Silly doesn’t have to mean stupid.

  • Daniel

    Just saw the film, one of the funniest i’ve seen in a long time.
    The bluntness of Aldous: “I think it’s just a metaphor for a crap movie”
    The complete trippiness of the surfer Chuck: “When life gives you lemons, say f**k the lemons and bail”

    Those two lines themselves are some of the funniest i’ve ever heard in my life.

    I understand it is the purpose of a review to analyze a film, but i believe you’ve thought way too much about it. The naked scenes definitely provide a good cringe, but why do they have to be anything more than a device to throw off the audience and set up the off beat comedy that we see throughout the film.

    Is it necessary ? Maybe not, but would comedy exist if directors and writers always stuck to normality and necessity. Of course most of the script has elements of absurdity, but i think youll find that to most people absurdity is synonomous with comedy.

    Reading your review, it almost sounds like you have ignored the latter part of the film, where he gets over Sarah? The bit where he actually writes his absurd and funny opera, where he ends up with Rachel? That is what his earlier pain makes you want for him, that happiness, and Jason Segel has done well to slowly lead the plot to that resolution.

    It’s a shame you haven’t enjoyed this comedy, when it really does have a lot to offer.

    Thanks for your review.

  • Mike

    What is “stupid” to one may be hilarious and even smart to another. There has to be a reason that these movies are tremendously successful and well liked. I think that a critic should look at a movie in the eye of Joe Public. Would it not give your opinion more merit if it were not skewed by the fact that you do not enjoy “stupid” humor. Two of my friends (who are doctors) actually peed a little during this movie.

  • Jason

    So…pretty much anyone can start up a website and call themselves a critic, huh?

  • FancastGal

    I haven’t seen this movie yet (had to watch Harold & Kumar first!), but apparently all the real “sarah Marshalls” are pissed with the ad campaign and are lashing back!

    http://bigpicture.fancast.com/2008/04/fancast_feature_sarah_marshall.html

  • Mitchell

    You just completely bashed this movie for no reason. I saw it yesterday, and it was pure gold. You say that you see Jason Segel’s penis for no apparent reason. If you didn’t laugh at the awkwardness or shock value of that, you have no sense of humor. Then you also say, or, you make fun of Segel’s sensitivity. 5 and a half years is a long time to date, then get cheated on and broken up with for no apparent reason. Yes, this movie makes fun of that, but they aren’t demoralizing the character by any means. You say you can’t like the main character since the movie’s making fun of him. You’re telling me you don’t like Peter? The man that didn’t do anything wrong, that was a great boyfriend to Sarah Marshall and got cheated for no reason? You don’t like him? You also criticize the plot of them staying at the hotel saying in the real world he would’ve high tailed it out of there. No, I wouldn’t. It was apparent that he was planning on spying on him at first, maybe that’s why he would’ve stayed. One more reason is the damn dignity, I would’ve stayed in that same beautiful resort to show I wasn’t hurt by her breaking up with me, even if I was.

    All your criticisms are criticisms that can made for any movie. Don’t like the main character?
    Departed- Matt Damon. Was that an awful movie?
    Something could be avoided by an easy move?
    Many, many movies have this. King Kong, why didn’t they just leave the island?

    You criticize this movie for having things that every movie has. Your review is unreliable and incorrect. Have a good life, having a hate for this great comedy.

  • Jurgan

    “So…pretty much anyone can start up a website and call themselves a critic, huh?”

    Yep. Damn that whole “free speech” thing!* Who cares what some powdered wigs in 1791 thought?

    “You say you can’t like the main character since the movie’s making fun of him. You’re telling me you don’t like Peter? The man that didn’t do anything wrong, that was a great boyfriend to Sarah Marshall and got cheated for no reason? You don’t like him?”

    I think she was saying that she wanted to like the main character, but the movie belittled him so much that it was impossible. Now, tone is a very subjective thing- it can be hard to judge the difference between what characters in a movie thinks, and what the movie itself thinks. There are times when characters feel one way but the movie implicitly condemns their attitudes. I think you’ll find, if you look at MAJ’s negative reviews of comedies (particularly Apatow movies), the main bone of contention with commenters has to do with tone and the attitude towards the characters’ actions. She interprets the tone of movies differently than do some of the commenters. It’s subjective enough that there’s bound to be disagreements.

    *May become invalid if net neutrality fails to pass.

  • tim

    Mike, I’m curious about this statement (and others like it in this discussion)…

    “I think that a critic should look at a movie in the eye of Joe Public”

    Is that really the job of a critic, and even if it is how is that possible? Joe Publics stamp of approval occurs at the box office and has nothing to do with critical analysis.

  • MaryAnn

    Those two lines themselves are some of the funniest i’ve ever heard in my life.

    They are pretty funny. They also bear no connection whatsoever to the rest of the film.

    i think youll find that to most people absurdity is synonomous with comedy.

    I like absurd comedy. This is not absurd comedy. Monty Python is absurd comedy. This is a mundane, banal story that wants to be sentimental, with a side dish of non sequiters.

    What is “stupid” to one may be hilarious and even smart to another.

    Yes, that’s true. But I was responding to someone who specifically called this movie brainless, as if that were a good thing.

    I think that a critic should look at a movie in the eye of Joe Public.

    That’s not criticism. That’s consumer reporting.

    Would it not give your opinion more merit if it were not skewed by the fact that you do not enjoy “stupid” humor.

    No, I don’t think my opinion would be more valuable if it were not my opinion. Funny how that works…

    So…pretty much anyone can start up a website and call themselves a critic, huh?

    Absolutely! But not everyone can build a web site over more than 10 years into one of the most popular movie review sites on the Net. I know my reviews are not for everyone, but clearly some small segment of the moviegoing public finds them useful.

  • Mike

    The reason I stated “in the eyes of Joe Public” was to make a point that people don’t personally know a critic. How can I agree with their personal opinion if I do not know their likes and dislikes. How can I give their opinion merit if I don’t know anything about them.

    I feel as though you are taking my criticism as a personal attack. It is not by any means. I find your review interesting, hence the need to keep responding.

    Do I think a critic should look at a movie in the eyes of Joe Public? Absolutely. Do you know why rottentomatoes.com works? It is simple…when a consensus is high that a movie is worth seeing, then it usually has some redeeming value. By pooling all of the critics and their “opinions”, it is easy to weed out the “opinions” that are personal or skewed.

    A consumer that attends a film usually does so as a Friday night escape. Or maybe a date night. Whatever the reason, they don’t pick apart the small details that don’t resonate to a casual movie watcher. I just think movie critics try to hard to sound intelligent or individual. Haven’t you ever heard someone say…”the critics gave it a horrible review so it must be worth seeing!”

    Please keep in mind that I am not the one that said anyone can be a critic. I think you do a damn good job and are very intelligent. Keep up the good work, I should probably take my opinions elsewhere before I get lynched.

  • MaryAnn

    The reason I stated “in the eyes of Joe Public” was to make a point that people don’t personally know a critic. How can I agree with their personal opinion if I do not know their likes and dislikes. How can I give their opinion merit if I don’t know anything about them.

    That’s why, if film criticism is important to you, you find a critic whose taste seems to coincide more often than not with your own. You get to know a critic through his or her writing.

    Do you know why rottentomatoes.com works? It is simple…when a consensus is high that a movie is worth seeing, then it usually has some redeeming value. By pooling all of the critics and their “opinions”, it is easy to weed out the “opinions” that are personal or skewed.

    I agree that RT works — I’m an RT Tomatometer critic. But RT works because it’s about the consensus of many, many critics. No one critic could do what RT does.

    A consumer that attends a film usually does so as a Friday night escape. Or maybe a date night. Whatever the reason, they don’t pick apart the small details that don’t resonate to a casual movie watcher.

    And what makes you think I’m writing for a casual movie watcher? I would have thought that the briefest survey of my reviews indicates that I am not.

    That said, if I went on a date with someone and that person didn’t want to rip apart the movie, one way or another, afterward, I would consider that an unsuccessful date.

    I just think movie critics try to hard to sound intelligent or individual.

    Yeah, we try so hard to sound that way. It’s not like we *are* intelligent or individual or anything. We just have to fake it.

    Haven’t you ever heard someone say…”the critics gave it a horrible review so it must be worth seeing!”

    Yes. And I don’t hang out with those people. And I don’t imagine they’re wasting their time reading my reviews. So we should all be happy.

  • Mike

    Well…..you are definitely an individual.

  • Mike

    “That said, if I went on a date with someone and that person didn’t want to rip apart the movie, one way or another, afterward, I would consider that an unsuccessful date.”

    One final thought….

    If that is your idea of an unsuccessful date than I now understand why you were unable to find the humor in this movie.

  • Mike

    “Yeah, we try so hard to sound that way. It’s not like we *are* intelligent or individual or anything. We just have to fake it.”

    One more final thought…..

    I never said you were not intelligent by any means. I was simply stating that critics try to talk profoundly about something that is not intended by any means to be so. This is the problem I have with reviews. A good popcorn movie gets bashed for not living up to the standards of the critics. Why? Are they afraid to admit that they like it in fear of looking less intelligent? After watching the previews, did you expect to find the secret to life here?

  • Jody Miller

    Just happened to read your review on RottenTomatoes, and while I personally dont agree with you, thats okay. I just feel as a journalist you should maybe research what you are going to put out for others to read. In your review you make a pretty big deal about the scenes where Jason Segal is nude for “no reason”. Well Segal in numerous interviews has stated that the movie is semi-based on his breakup with Linda Cardenelli who was also in Freaks & Geeks, who actually broke up with him while he was in the nude. So maybe there actually was a reason for the scene in the movie?

  • MaryAnn

    If that is your idea of an unsuccessful date than I now understand why you were unable to find the humor in this movie.

    By “rip apart,” I mean, of course, that ripping apart can be a positive response to a movie, too. If I go to a movie, I want to talk about it afterward. If I’m with someone who’s not interested in doing that, well, I’m not gonna be spending a lot of time going to movies with someone like that.

    A good popcorn movie gets bashed for not living up to the standards of the critics.

    Why don’t you read some of my reviews of popcorn movies? I like popcorn movies… when they’re good. This one is not.

    who actually broke up with him while he was in the nude

    And…? Just because something happened in real life does not mean it automatically makes sense just to throw it into the story. From a perspective of story context, it makes no sense as it is presented here.

  • Bryan

    I saw the movie last night and I have to say it is the funniest movie I’ve seen since Wedding Crashers. And I did not like Super Bad and found Knocked up somewhat funny. But then again I also don’t find smacking coconuts together to simulate horses all that funny either.

    I don’t see what is wrong with showing Segel’s character crying on the floor. It makes you laugh and want to cringe for him similar to the answering machine scene in Swingers. It is extreme of course but it only makes the ending that much better.

    And what is so bad if memorable lines have nothing to do with the main plot of the film. I can think of many great lines that have nothing to do with the plot of films. As far as the naked scenes, I agree they were unnecessary, but I’m not going to write off the whole movie over that. Oh well, when in Rome.

  • MaryAnn

    I don’t see what is wrong with showing Segel’s character crying on the floor.

    I’ll repeat myself again: there’s nothing wrong per se with just about anything that can be depicted on film. It’s the tone and the attitude with which it is depicted that makes it work, or not. There’s nothing wrong with Peter’s crying and being upset. There’s something wrong with making a huge production out of it in order to hold Peter up as somehow less than a man for feeling something so strongly.

    And what is so bad if memorable lines have nothing to do with the main plot of the film.

    Again, it’s not so much about the lines not having anything to do with the plot. It’s about them not residing in the same tonal area. Hollywood comedies are particularly terrible these days at finding a tone and sticking with it. These movies appear to be designed for people with absolutely no attention span, and I find that insulting.

  • Josh

    Again I must ask, what kind of alternate universe does MaryAnn inhabit? She feels these films are not funny, and that’s fine. That is her opinion. The great thing about these films though is that the characters are so relatable. We know these people. They are our friends, enemies, lovers, and family. I could totally relate to the main character in Sarah Marshall.

  • Mike

    If I could make my responses purple, I would have a point. Since that is not the case, I concede. MaryAnn, I disagree with you but admire your passion. You have gained a fan through this debate. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comments. I will continue to read your reviews and will try not to be a pain in the future.

  • Mike

    10. Knocked Up (05.29/06.01)
    9. Mr. Brooks (05.22/06.01)
    8. Evan Almighty (06.18/06.22)
    7. Superbad (08.09/08.17)
    6. Daddy Day Camp (08.06/08.08)
    5. Southland Tales (11.07/11.14)
    4. Georgia Rule (05.07/05.11)
    3. I Know Who Killed Me (07.27/07.27)
    2. Smokin’ Aces (01.23/01.26)
    1. Beowulf (11.13/11.16)

    10…..Absolutely hilarious
    9…..Horrible
    8…..Would rather watch The Office
    7…..Laughed harder then I ever have
    6…..Wouldn’t have paid $0.01 to see it so no comment
    5…..Over the top
    4…..Huh?
    3…..I don’t know but happy that you do
    2…..Good stuff
    1…..IMAX will change your whole perspective on movies

    This is how I would review. I think most would agree. But then again I do not have a website and can’t write in purple so……I guess I will keep my day job.

  • Ryan

    10. Disagree
    9. Agree
    8. Agree
    7. Disagree
    6. Agree
    5. Agree
    4. ?
    3. ?
    2. Disagree
    1. Disagree

    You’re batting .500 with me Mike =P

  • Mike

    Batting .500 would get me in the hall of fame!

  • MaryAnn

    The great thing about these films though is that the characters are so relatable. We know these people. They are our friends, enemies, lovers, and family. I could totally relate to the main character in Sarah Marshall.

    I don’t know these people, I can’t relate to them, and they are not my friends or family or anything. (Do people really have enemies? I mean, people outside junior high school?) If that makes me weird, then I’m weird. But I’m glad I don’t know people like these people, and that instead I know the people I know.

  • MaryAnn

    This is how I would review. I think most would agree

    If you think you just “reviewed” those films, then you don’t know what film reviewing is. So why are you even wasting time here?

  • Mike

    I was wasting my time here because I am fascinated by people who “review” or “critique” something. It is your opinion and I am sure you will quote me and then provide a witty response. Let me explain…

    A critical review of the flickfilosopher.com….

    MaryAnn’s musings…. (SKIP THEM)

    Completely irrelevant and misguided, MaryAnn cannot relate to you or me. In fact, if you relate to a character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall then you are no friend to this “critic”.

    “I don’t know these people, I can’t relate to them, and they are not my friends or family or anything.”

    Having not produced, written, or contributed to any film….she is highly critical of many of the films she reviews. When confronted with criticism, she will use the depth of her vocabulary to fight back.

    Her comments seem to be those of a woman that observes for a living. Lacking sense of humor and searching for answers in this crazy world through the films she attends.

    Although well written, her reviews are long and obnoxious. Comparing at times to a book report on anger towards society.

    If you are looking for a review, go see the movie. Have a mind of your own. If you find yourself here….then you may find advice that only a small portion of the elite will agree with.

    Does this sound like a fair review of your work?

    Probably not. It’s just my opinion. Do you catch my drift or do I need to grab the thesaurus and use bigger words?

  • bitchen frizzy

    Ad-hominem, projection, and to top it all off a supremely hypocritical concluding sentence.

    Bah. You had an entertaining exchange going until that point.

  • Mike

    I am a bit of a child….I mean I did like this movie.

  • MaryAnn

    she is highly critical of many of the films she reviews.

    It’s true, I’m such a renegade that way. Most critics don’t bother with the whole criticism aspect.

    If you are looking for a review, go see the movie. Have a mind of your own. If you find yourself here….then you may find advice that only a small portion of the elite will agree with.

    Wait, he *does* get it! I do expect that many people come here because they want to talk about a film after they’ve seen it, and I also expect that many of those people are dissatisfied with the mainstream, the conventional, the status quo.

    Bravo, Mike!

  • Mike

    What is so terrible about mainstream, conventional and status quo?

    That’s it! I can’t take this anymore!

    I am officially resigning from society and all that is status quo.

    I want to be one of the elite!

    How do I join?

    What are the benefits?

    When can I laugh?

    What kind of wine can I have?

    Is it taboo to buy the boxed wine?

    What do I order from Starbucks?

    Can I drink beer?

    Who am I?

    HELP!

  • bitchen frizzy

    “I want to be one of the elite!

    How do I join?”

    I’ve got news for you. You already are, or you wouldn’t be here. Stop denying it, is all.

    Your posts remind me of kids in school who make bad grades on purpose and hang out with kids they can’t stand because they don’t want to be different.

  • Mike

    I’ve been caught….damn!

  • Josh

    “I don’t know these people, I can’t relate to them, and they are not my friends or family or anything. (Do people really have enemies? I mean, people outside junior high school?) If that makes me weird, then I’m weird. But I’m glad I don’t know people like these people, and that instead I know the people I know”

    Which is why I am worried about you MaryAnn. If you can not find one thing to relate to in these characters, it makes me wonder what your life must be like. Either you have cut yourself off from civilization or you have some very strange and uninteresting friends. Do people still have enemies? WTF MaryAnn.. If you really believe you don’t have any enemies than I feel sorry for you. There’s nothing wrong with admitting that you don’t like someone. It’s how you go about expressing those feelings that matters

  • bitchen frizzy

    “…very strange and uninteresting friends.”

    Isn’t that an oxymoron?

  • Jurgan

    “If you are looking for a review, go see the movie. Have a mind of your own. If you find yourself here….then you may find advice that only a small portion of the elite will agree with.”

    With movie tickets at a minimum of $6 (if you can go in the middle of the day- it’s probably considerably more) and the average movie between 1.5 and 2 hours, you can still manage to go to every single movie that ever comes out and make up your own mind? And you can do all this while keeping a “day job” and a “life” (something you excoriated Maryann for lacking, so one presumes you have an active and fulfilling one). Wow, I’m impressed, Mike. Me, I only have twenty-four hours in a day, so I have to be more selective. Hence, I find a couple critics I like and rely on them to help me weed out the ones that are worth my time.

  • MaryAnn

    Which is why I am worried about you MaryAnn.

    Why, that’s very sweet of you, Josh. But there’s no need to worry about me. I’m just fine.

    Do people still have enemies? WTF MaryAnn..

    No, WTF, Josh. What, do you live in a comic book? Or maybe you need to explain what you mean by the word “enemy.”

  • http://www.newbspeak.com Newbs

    When I first read your review, I was convinced you’d overreacted to the dick shots. But now that I’ve seen the film I know exactly what you mean. I don’t mind seeing penises in movies — I long for the days when male nudity is just as acceptable as female — but when they’re played solely for shock value with the intent of provoking annoyingly youthful twitters all over the theater, you begin to realize how disingenuous it is. Apart from that, and a couple phoned-in performances from Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill, I thought the movie was hilarious.

  • Bryan

    I can only assume Josh is referring to a Lundberg boss, a Sarah Marshall ex-girlfriend, a Flanders neighbor (or Homer depending on which one you are). Those all are valid non comic book enemies. Or is it wrong to call those people enemies? Maybe the word enemy is not very PC. Maybe we should call them nonfriends. That would be kinder. Seriously, does someone really need to explain the word enemy?

    As far as the movie is concerned, the more I think about it, the better it gets. Jonah Hill and the nudity scenes were pretty much the only parts of the movie I did not like. Other than that, the dinner scene is hilarious, the Dracula opera is absurdly funny, Peter’s sober day at the resort was great.

  • Chris

    Well Mary I cant do your fancy quotations box so I’ll just say Mary wrote:

    I can see that that might be the case. But the movie makes fun of Peter’s vulnerability. How can that possibly appeal to you?

    I think it’s appealing because it’s true. Whenever someone is just crying and being a baby over the end of a relationship I look at that and think does this person not understand that the overwelming majority of relationships end this way? Stop being a big baby wanting attention from everyone and go back to living your life while you still can. And look what happens to Peter in this movie. By the end of the movie one can say he is in a much better position career wise and relationship wise.

  • mike

    Jurgan,

    Thanks for the reply.

    As far as my “excoriated” response to MaryAnn, I meant that with no ill will. I was simply stating that she seems to dislike the type of people in this film. I know these people. People who laugh at farts also read books. They also watch “deep” movies and understand. They can add and subtract as well.

    If you are so worried about $6.00 for a movie that you take her advice then I feel for you. Do you have favorite critics that you frequent when you buy paper towels? Toilet paper? If this is indeed the case then you probably shouldn’t quit your day job. Maybe consider a little overtime.

  • Jurgan

    *Sigh*

    Mike, are you deliberately being dense at this point? Yes, $6 is a lot of money if you multiply it by EVERY SINGLE MOVIE THAT EVER COMES OUT. More than the money, though, is the time. You said people should “decide for themselves” whether they like movies, and that’s fine, except that people cannot possibly go to every single movie and decide for themselves whether they like them or not, unless watching movies is their job. So you have to decide somehow which movies are worth your time. How do you do that? Do you rely on ads? Well, that might be a start, but obviously ads can’t be trusted to be objective. Do you take recommendations from friends? Then those friends are serving as film critics, albeit in an informal setting. What other options are there? Somehow, you have to decide whether a movie is worth your time without seeing it. Look, let me put it this way: To your right is a list of the most recently reviewed movies on this site, many of which are still playing in theaters. Have you seen every single one of them? I doubt it. If not, which ones have you not seen? Why not? Let’s say, for instance, you haven’t seen Run, Fat Boy, Run (though you may have- substitute in any movie you haven’t seen). Why didn’t you go see it, yet you did go see Sarah Marshall? What convinced you that Run, Fat Boy, Run was less worthy of your time than Forgetting Sarah Marshall? How do you know for sure you wouldn’t like it without going and making up your mind for yourself? Somehow, you have to weed out which movies you think you’ll like, because you simply cannot see them all. Certainly you don’t have to rely on Maryann’s opinions to help make your decisions, but you have to rely on someone. The idea with reviewers is that you pick one who generally agrees with you on movies you have seen, and then you assume you can trust that person may agree with you on future movies. Of course, no two people agree all the time, so it’s helpful to find more than one sympathetic reviewer- I also read Ebert’s reviews, although his health problems have hurt his schedule to the point where that becomes impractical. Anyway, the point is that the idea that you always have to see a movie to decide if it’s worthwhile is senseless, because you first have to make a judgment about whether is worth your while to take two hours out of your day to watch it.

    And your comments about “not quitting [my] day job” and working “a little overtime” are beyond irritating in their condescension (note: not all jobs involve overtime- some are paid on salary or, in my case, day by day). That’s so silly/rude that I’m inclined to assume you’re deliberately trolling, but I hope my long response indicates I’m still offering the benefit of the doubt.

  • MaryAnn

    Seriously, does someone really need to explain the word enemy?

    Yes, I think so. Of course there are people in the world I don’t like, but I don’t consider them “enemies” — I don’t consider them at all, if I can avoid it, and if I must deal with them I try to remain as cordial and civil as possible until I can extract myself from the situation. The word ‘enemy’ suggests an active, ongoing emnity, an engaged relationship in which you’re constantly battling another person. What adult wastes time and energy on that?

    I think it’s appealing because it’s true. Whenever someone is just crying and being a baby over the end of a relationship I look at that and think does this person not understand that the overwelming majority of relationships end this way? Stop being a big baby wanting attention from everyone and go back to living your life while you still can.

    Ah, and here we have the nub of it: Some people really are unsympathetic to someone in Peter’s situation, and believe he does deserve to be made fun of.

    The thing about Peter’s misery, of course, is that the more private he is about his misery — like crying alone in his hotel room — the more he is disparaged by the movie for it. Peter is most certainly NOT looking for attention from anyone. And you’d think that so universal an experience would elict sympathy — because haven’t we all been made miserable by romance? — rather than scorn.

    I hope next time you’re upset about something that happens to all of us, no one attempts to “comfort” you by telling you to just get over it.

  • Chris

    Being upset about something and going on and on about it for weeks are two very different things Mary. And they show that in the movie that this is not a “one week” healing process. No it is obvious that by the time he goes to Hawaii his friends are ready for him to get back on track. He is screwing up his job on top of insulting his step brother’s wife for no good reason. Then when he gets to the hotel he is given a free room just because he is in heartbreak city. All the hotel staff members talk to him and try to give him advice, from the bartender to the chef. At the same time though why should other people not be allowed to make fun of the miseries of love? Everyone has their downs as well as their ups correct? Everyone has probably told someone at some point “dont ever fall in love” and I bet the same majority have had someone tell them that. I guarentee when someone tells you that though and you are not in the heartbreak area of the pool you find it funny and amusing and you know that in time that person will realize how dumb that comment is. That’s what this comedy is about Mary, it’s about how we all go through heartbreak, your hearbreak is no more special than mine, and in both cases I bet I could find humor after the situation has past, and that’s exactly what Jason Segal did when he wrote this movie.

  • Spencer

    Trust me: I say this without the slightest shred of condescension, because I have only recently realized my error.

    People need to understand the nature of this site and MaryAnn’s approach to movie criticism. As far as I can tell (and at the risk of putting words in her mouth), it is to comment on movies and their impact on and reflection of society from her own unique perspective. I agree with Jurgan regarding the nature of us as moviegoers and critic-readers: we should find a few we like and who generally agree with us and then take their advice in the future on what to see, but not on whether or not to like something.

    For these reasons, her perspective is not up for debate or attack, except from a sympathetic standpoint wondering how one facet reconciles with another. Using a separate (or, as MaryAnn called it, “status quo/mainstream”) set of criteria is missing the point. She, I think, merely comments on what her reactions and opinions are and then puts them out there to start a dialogue with like-minded people (and secondarily, to shake a few cages). She’s lived a life which I can only imagine is satisfactory to her, and that has informed her unique perspective. I doubt she’s out to change her worldview, and it’s probably asinine, arrogant, and presumptuous of us to try.

    I’ve decided to only take her advice on what to see as it regards “geek” and so-called “chick flick” movies, since this where her and my sensibilities most closely align. On all other types, I find that I share radically different fundamental assumptions and wear very differently-colored glasses. No doubt she thinks I am incorrect, BUT THAT’S OK, b/c I think the same about her! Why make an enemy (in her sense) out of her and frustrate myself in the process, and all to no avail for either of us? Sure, I may still post a comment with my reaction to a movie which differed from hers, but I hope I never am so foolish as to post a comment again with my reaction TO HER REVIEW of a movie that is not one of the above types.

    So of course the question one should always ask oneself is, “Why am I writing this?” If your answer is to get something off your chest or to argue a point with her, then I think your response is inappropriate (again, except from a sympathetic standpoint). However, if it is to join in a geek love-fest or to ask why, as a fill-in-the-blank, she didn’t see what you saw as a fellow fill-in-the-blank, then I think you’re on the right track.

    As far as what to enjoy goes, I’ll never take her advice: I’ll always think and enjoy for myself.

  • mike

    Jurgan,

    I was acting as a child. The comment was rude, I know. I am aware of salary which is why I included the overtime comment. I guess I achieved the desired response. I apologize, but I was a little off that day. Your response was well written and on point. Please disregard my antics.

  • tim

    In the late 80′s & early 90′s the romantic comedy genre was arguably the most creatively bankrupt theme going. Every film followed a nearly identical plot arc; boy meets girl, obstacle keeps them apart, couple overcomes obstacle and they live happily-ever after. The only variable was who played the leading man and woman (Julia Roberts! Tom Hanks!)

    Although the current trend in romantic comedies follows a less predictable plot arc the problem is that creatively speaking they aren’t any more interesting. I guess the characters are supposed to be engaging because they are “real” (translation: geeks, stoners, losers, and lovable buffoons), but I mostly find them annoying or mundane and the characters that inhabit Forgetting Sarah Marshall are no exception.

    What used to be a feminine fantasy about prince charming has morphed into a masculine fantasy/nightmare about relationships and love. This is neither a criticism or compliment, but I don’t see the difference between the new Apatow Universe and that of Nora Ephron. The target has shifted but the result is the same.

  • a

    Flawed characters have been a major backbone of storytelling in all mediums for nearly ever. It is one of the most common themes in protagonists in great movies, books, plays, whatever. Of course a comedy will make jokes about its flawed main character. What a poor criticism to suggest a character being unperfect makes him unlikeable.

  • zoetree

    It’s interesting to read MJ’s reactions to the inherent connotations suggested by elements of the movie. Very interesting. Some of them were in the back of my brain somewhere, but unexpressed. So thanks, MJ, at being so meticulously articulate at expressing them.

    My friend, Alli, and I did not spend much time on delving into our reactions to the movie. It was more like:

    “Did you like the movie?”

    “It was okay. I laughed a couple of times.”

    “Yeah… and I liked the girl from THAT 70′S SHOW.”

    “Yeah.”

    “It’s apparently a movie a lot of guys really get into.”

    “Yeah, like a chick flick for guys.”

    “A guy flick!”

    Then we decided to call it a “dick-flick” cause it rhymes and there’s a lot of actual jr. man in it. I think we laughed more at that than the movie. Then we didn’t talk about it anymore. Definitely not worth 10 bucks to me.

  • MaryAnn

    Of course a comedy will make jokes about its flawed main character.

    No, there’s no “of course” about it.

    What a poor criticism to suggest a character being unperfect makes him unlikeable.

    Who suggested that? Who suggested that we should only be given movies about “perfect” characters (whatever that means)?

  • Butch Newton

    Wow do you usually get this kind of discussion after a review? If so, I think I’ll skip the review and just read the comments, far more entertaining and insightful. I respect your willingness to respond and debate those who disagree with your opinion. The great thing is, to me everyone who gave their opinion on the film are just as valid as the “critic who’s review prompted such a discussion. I would say that you far over-analyzed this film as per my comment earlier but the open debate that it launched was so very fruitful.

    My review:

    My girlfriend and I thought the movie was damn funny when we saw it. The end.

  • brandon

    This is the most horrible attempt at a comedy review I’ve ever read.

    Why people pay you to write this crap, I’m unsure of. The only feasible solution I camme up with is this website gets extra traffic just from the sheer number of people who think you’re an idiot – and your boss likes the numbers?

    Other than that, maybe you should stick to reviewing movies like “Brokeback Mountain.” That seems like it would be more your style.

  • AJP

    “This is the most horrible attempt at a comedy review I’ve ever read.”

    You mean because she called a juveline and insulting pile of crap a juvenile and insulting pile of crap?

    I’m not seeing the problem as being with the review, only with the juvenile and insulting pile of crap pretending to be a comedy.

  • David

    Haven’t we all seen enough movies about ugly, dumpy Jewish guys miraculously pairing up with sexy, skinny girls? And how about movies in which the female leads are either pre-pubescent looking and vacuous, or emaciated and vacuous?

  • Mike

    Everybody calm down and LAUGH at this movie! If you are analyzing this movie than you are doing it an injustice. The reason this review has sparked such a large debate (as I felt the need to chime in as well) is due to the fact that sooooo many of us can relate to these characters and as a result, feel insulted when someone degrades them.

    All I can say is….consider the source.

  • Spencer

    And you’re doing her an injustice by going on her site and saying that the movie shouldn’t be analyzed. The main premise of this site is that there is no such thing as “just a movie”– that even stupid mindless entertainment tells us something about us as a society.

    Or maybe you’re right– “I Love Lucy” and “Everybody Loves Raymond” are just silly comedies to be enjoyed mindlessly. They don’t tell us anything about the changing roles of men and women, and they certainly don’t tell us anything about what we as a culture at large find enjoyable to watch.

  • WG

    Ugh, I just came back from a date in which we watched this. BAD IDEA (this movie, or seeing a movie in general–not the date). What a tone-deaf, confusing flick. Where were they going with it? The movie had fifty different unfinished theses about man-child relationships and zero emotional narrative.

    Was anyone else as lost during the double-date dinner scene as I was? Were there supposed to be red herrings in there? Mary Ann, I think we WERE supposed to think about this film and ascribe meaning and argument to the events because otherwise it would be a series of wishy-washy encounters between bland characters. I think the craftsmanship was just so shitty that the point didn’t come across. Would producers really expect us to take mundane, day-to-day stuff like this at face value? Then again, maybe you’re right: “The Real Housewives of Orange County” had a second season.

    I think I chuckled five time the entire film.

  • Daemonlaud

    Interesting watching MJ deftly fighting her way clear of the pressing mass of the insipid and lost (how do thse chaps end up at this site?).

    Anyway…thought I’d just say – yes, Mary-Ann, adults *do* have enemies.

    Some of us do, anyway.

    The trick of it is only some of those actually know they do. That is what psychosis is, and it is rather difficult to comprehend insanity if one is relatively sane.

  • AJ

    Just saw it on HBO- a terrible movie. We will just have to contend with the fact that public education is on a serious down-turn, judging by the comments.

    MaryAnn= Voice of Reason