Why 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' Still Holds Up

'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'Credit: Universal
Who hasn't tried to win their breakup by renting a Hawaiian villa? 

As the writer of a recent USA Today column so eloquently put it: "From the moment Jason Segel opened his towel, I knew I was in trouble."

As we look back on the romantic comedies and raunchy comedies of the 2010s, Forgetting Sarah Marshall stands out as one of the best of them. It had a witty screenplay, characters you fell in love with, and some of the funniest lines and situations in movies from that era. Everyone was at the top of their game, and somehow each person was able to harness this inner charm which made you never hate the perceived villains but empathize with everyone In the situation.

The film was directed by Nicholas Stoller and starred Jason SegelKristen BellMila Kunis and Russell Brand.

This was truly a movie that understood how to capitalize on what we loved about the comedy genre, and it also knew which tired aspects to reinvent. 

For those who don't remember, the comedy is about a composer named Peter who dates a famous TV actress named Sarah Marshall. After they break up, Peter heads to Hawaii to find himself and winds up at the same resort as Sarah and her new beau, international music superstar Aldous Snow. Peter is bailed out by an adventurous desk attendant named Rachel and some fun hotel workers who allow him to be a part of their friend group as he tries to get over his ex. Peter eventually falls for Rachel. Hilarity ensues as he tries to make it work with her as his ex makes it work with her man.

It's been over a decade since the movie came out, and I feel like little snippets of this movie really percolated into everyday life. From the Dracula musical to the weird and obsessive fan played by Jonah Hill, I often find myself chuckling day to day as I remember these gags and more. I mean, we spent the last year using Zoom, something used hilariously in this movie as Bill Hader's character chats with Segel's character via webcam for the middle and back half of the movie. 

This story really popped on screen because it dared to take tropes and spin them on their heads.

It was the hilarious gratuitous male nudity, which in raunchy movies was reserved for the female cast. There was also the idea of male vulnerability and that they couldn't get over significant others. I also loved the play on money and being destitute. Peter can't afford a room at the hotel, so he has to have one snuck to him covertly.

And of course, the movie lived up to the promise, as we see the escalating tensions of Peter being forced to get over his girlfriend when locked in a villa next door to her, seeing her all the time, and even having to eat meals with her in some incredibly funny dueling dinner scenes, culminating in one of the most hilarious sex scenes of all time. 

More than anything else, this movie understood that well-developed characters can make things funnier. There's no over-the-top set pieces here. But what crackles is the dialogue and the stakes built into every conversation. Each character has a motive and a goal, and we see all of them arc over the course of the film to become different people. That's great writing and perfect directing.

Of course, the movie was spun off for Get Him to the Greek, but in the past decade, I found myself wanting to return to these characters to see what they're up to and where their lives have gone.  

What are some of your favorite memories or parts of the movie? Let us know in the comments.      

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