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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride

Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008, *)

To promote Forgetting Sarah Marshall, writer-star Jason Segal took to the august pages of the New York Times to advertise the precise number of frames in the comedy’s opening scenes that we are obliged to contemplate his junk: 79, transcribes the Gray Lady. Another innately conservative “shock” comedy from the petseleh.jpgJudd Apatow production line, Forgetting, the début from director Nicholas Stoller (who wrote the script to 2005’s Fun With Dick and Jane remake and three episodes of “Undeclared”) is one of the shaggiest to date. Segal plays Peter, who writes murky music for a “CSI”-like series that stars his girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). She dumps him for a British musician, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), which he discovers when he retreats to Hawaii to get over his bawling fits and fits of balling and checks himself into the same hotel. Rachel (Mila Kunis), the pretty desk clerk at the resort helps him beyond the call of duty and they meet-cute, screw-cute and break-up-cute. While other writers have noted Apatow’s fondness for stories about shrubby men who are honey to attracted women, “Sarah Marshall” is the first that approaches levels of misogyny, especially in the way Bell is shot, with inconsistent lighting and angles that accentuate how close her eyes are together, almost akin to the inexplicable tomato hues of Kirsten Dunst’s skin in Spiderman 2. Kunis is only slightly better served, but she holds her own with her level gaze, large green eyes, superb timing and a fine plush pudgy nose. But the reverse angles on Segal are all static-camera stand-ups, the most advanced example of the “Stand there and say shit and say shit and say some more shit” until we run out of time. The camera can’t move while the guys in “Sarah Marshall” are riffing. (An unfunny Bill Heder plays a pal of Peter’s who’s seen almost exclusively on the screen of his laptop). Still, it’s the avowed comedy of the male frontal nudity in four shots and the many perspectives of the tall Segal’s pale chest that exposes the nakedness of the enterprise. (It’s still to be preferred over Mike Myer’s compulsive display of his fishbelly-white rump.) I’m not an opponent of a plethora of petseleh, but it’s almost as unfunny as Peter’s obsession with a puppet musical of “Dracula.” A nudist has to dream, I suppose. (There’s a Segal nude scene in Knocked Up, too.) There’s no double standard, though: there’s at least two sets of perky bared breasts, or mid-fucking midriffs covered with a bedsheet for every fifth glimpse of ample man-boobs. In a way, it’s a high-art homage to Peter Greenaway’s R-rating-buster, Prospero’s Books, which stymied the MPAA censors with its ample acreage of withered man-flesh and Sir John Gielgud’s fallen knob. In the most important way, it’s a comedy with scattered laughs, myriad fetishes and fixations and no small amount of clumsiness.

One Response to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008, *)”

  1. Whitney says:

    Though the film had some cheap laughs for me (usually occurring whenever Paul Rudd spoke) I think I mostly agree with your review. The only thing I question is the reaction to Segal’s nudity that seems to be outrageous to most people who see the film. I guess after years of seeing full-frontal female nudity I’m ready to see a little male junk…not for any nefarious purposes, but merely to even the playing ground. Sarah Marshall certainly doesn’t attempt this (what with the boobies and all) but I just might appreciate the penis shots…I’m still thinking about it…but not too much!

Movie City Indie

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“Roger Ebert claimed that the re-editing of The Brown Bunny after Cannes allowed him a difference of opinion so vast that he first called it the worst film in history and eventually gave it a thumbs up. This is both far fetched and an outright lie. The truth is, unlike the many claims that the unfinished film that showed at Cannes was 24 minutes shorter than the finished film, it was only 8 minutes shorter. The running time I filled out on the Cannes submission form was arbitrary. The running time I chose was just a number I liked. I had no idea where in the process I would actually be when I needed to stop cutting to meet the screening deadline. So whatever running time was printed in the program, I promise you, was not the actual running time. And the cuts I made to finish the film after Cannes were not many. I shortened the opening race scene once I was able to do so digitally. After rewatching the last 4 minutes of the film over and over again, somewhere within those 4 minutes, I froze the picture and just ended the film there, cutting out everything after that point, which was about 3 minutes. Originally in the salt flats scene, the motorcycle returned from the white. I removed the return portion of that shot, which seemed too literal. And I cut a scene of me putting on a sweater. That’s pretty much it. Plus the usual frame here, frame there, final tweaks. If you didn’t like the unfinished film at Cannes, you didn’t like the finished film, and vice versa. Roger Ebert made up his story and his premise because after calling my film literally the worst film ever made, he eventually realized it was not in his best interest to be stuck with that mantra. Stuck with a brutal, dismissive review of a film that other, more serious critics eventually felt differently about. He also took attention away from what he actually did at the press screening. It is outrageous that a single critic disrupted a press screening for a film chosen in main competition at such a high profile festival and even more outrageous that Ebert was ever allowed into another screening at Cannes. His ranting, moaning and eventual loud singing happened within the first 20 minutes, completely disrupting and manipulating the press screening of my film. Afterwards, at the first public screening, booing, laughing and hissing started during the open credits, even before the first scene of the film. The public, who had heard and read rumors about the Ebert incident and about me personally, heckled from frame one and never stopped. To make things weirder, I got a record-setting standing ovation from the supporters of the film who were trying to show up the distractors who had been disrupting the film. It was not the cut nor the film itself that drew blood. It was something suspicious about me. Something offensive to certain ideologues.”
~ Vincent Gallo

“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster