The hype has been so frenzied and the reviews so forthcoming on Jason Segel’s “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” that it would be impossible for me to add anything of significance to the discourse at this point.
Emma Forrest did a stupendous job of profiling the latest Judd Apatow protege, Segel, and the first movie he has written and starred in:
In the film, it’s clear that Segel’s character will end up with Mila Kunis, aka “the right girl,” and—kudos—the first nice Jewish girl to make it past Apatow’s shiksa goddess fixation. It’s certainly the first Apatow film to climax in a lavish puppet musical, puppets being Segel’s secret passion: “I threw it out there and the next thing I knew, there were 40 Jim Henson puppets.” A budding musician—he wrote the love song that his Freaks and Geeks character sang to his beloved on-screen—Segel is also thrilled that the soundtrack will feature songs he wrote. He’s been making his living in the business since his teens, but for this film, Segel’s enthusiasm—and anxiety about its reception—is palpable. “We’re all just wondering who’ll be the one to spoil Judd’s run,” he concedes. “I am afraid that this group has become so successful that one of us will be the iceberg that sinks the Titanic. I really don’t want to be it.”
If you haven’t read the entire article, which Danielle linked to in her last blog, I highly recommend it.
Naomi Pfefferman, the JJ’s Arts and Entertainment Editor, also wrote a nice piece in last week’s paper about “Sarah Marshall” director Nicholas Stoller (a Jew with the name Nicholas?), who is a proud member of the “Jew-Tang Clan,” as Apatow’s stable of talented tribesmen has been nicknamed.
Stoller was hanging around on the set of “Knocked Up” when Segel, his favorite writing partner, mentioned a script about his own experiences as a dumpee. (The actor actually had a girlfriend break up with him while he was naked, which became “Marshall’s” opening sequence.)
“I went to Judd and asked if I could direct the movie—my first—if I helped Jason through the writing process,” Stoller said.
Apatow agreed on the spot.
However, I do have a couple of coins to toss into the overflowing fountain of publicity this movie has generated. I saw the movie last week at an AFI Director’s Screening at the Arclight in Hollywood. The screening, open to the general public, was crammed full of eager young people and the post-film Q & A with Segel and Stoller was buzzing with enthusiasm - the two held hands in a genuine moment of affection and then again later just for laughs.
The unique mix of chick flick romanticism, crude guy humor, universally appealing heartbreak plot and truly nuanced acting made for a movie that appealed to me just as much as it did to my fiance, David.
I have to say though, that the movie poses a challenge for Israelis who may have a hard time with the heavy use of slang words (“junk” for penis) and pop culture references. And the thick British accent of Sarah’s new boyfriend. David whispered to me in the middle of the movie, “Is he speaking English?”
But that’s not the point. The point is that when I bought the tickets to see the movie, I contemplated inviting David, or my girlfriend or my younger sister, feeling confident that any one of them would have enjoyed the movie equally. Usually, we divide up movies by people categories: David saw “300” with his brothers; the latest “Rambo” with his buddies; I saw “Taxi to the Dark Side” (a heavy doc about torture in Afghanistan) with my girlfriend; the dripping-with-drama “Atonement” alone - we were on a 13 hour flight to Israel - because David would never agree to rent it, etc.
But “Sarah Marshall” could fit in any of those categories. I could enjoy it with anyone, even my mom - in spite of Segel’s infamous naked scene.
And that’s cool.