Forgetting Sarah Marshall [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Universal Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (7th November 2008).
The Film

It seems that for the past few years Judd Apatow has had a magic touch. Whether as writer, director or simply producer, his movies have been both critically and financially successful. He may also hold the torch for creating the 'bromantic' comedy subgenre – a romantic comedy that guys want to see. Indeed, ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ is just another in a line of highly enjoyable date movies designed to entertain guys as much as their dates (which, incidentally, is the big reason I'll be gushing over this movie more than, say, '27 Dresses').

In this movie, Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) breaks up with successful actress Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) and goes to Hawaii to forget her. Lo and behold, guess who happens to be on picturesque Oahu but Sarah and her new boyfriend, British indie rocker Aldous Snow (an absolutely scene-stealing Russell Brand). Peter meets and falls for the hotel receptionist, cute and outgoing Rachel Jensen (the lovely Mila Kunis). The fun of the movie is seeing how much trouble these people can get into, as Peter meets various eccentric people, including a philosophical surfer (Paul Rudd) and Aldous-doting aspiring musician (Jonah Hill).

This movie is definitely much better than your typical comedy in many ways, the main one being the dialogue. Jason Segel wrote the movie, and I laughed a lot of times. A typical joke, Peter is talking to his surfing instructor about Rachel's tough ex-boyfriend, and the surfing instructor speaks first:
'I saw [the ex-boyfriend] beat up a guy with a starfish.'
'Okay, that's just ridiculous.'
'That guy was me.'

The gag catches you off-guard thanks to its quick-fire delivery and its unexpected punchline. The movie also has a nice amount of raunch, but always keeps the high road, never once resorting to toilet humour or other low-brow jokes, which is all too often the road taken by comedies aimed at guys. Many, many scenes shows intelligence and very sharp writing.

That dinner scene between the four lovers, for example, is exceptional. It's a great work of awkwardness, tension and dialogue. From line to line, the movie goes from funny to sharp-tongued to silly, yet never going over-the-top. It also keeps your interest in check at all times. Indeed, the movie just twists and turns your (and the characters') emotions around, shivving you and twisting the knife. It's doesn’t play nice with some of the characters, even those you can care about. Emotions run deep and love and hate are not as simple as portrayed in other movies.

This is what elevates this movie above other ones. When you're dating someone, you may still have feelings for your ex, and things get complicated whether you want them to or not. Indeed, this is one romantic comedy where people get together and break up for actual reasons, as opposed to movie reasons. The motivations and decisions are made by real people with complex emotions, from beginning to end.

The ending, though slightly weak, is satisfying. It's typical but any other ending wouldn't fit in with the rest of the movie. This is probably the movie's only flaw, though I honestly couldn't imagine it with any other ending. The choice of actors is great, and all of them are endearing and sympathetic. The characters all have their flaws, and you like the characters for this reason. The actors do a great job bringing together a really well put together movie. Once again Judd Apatow shows why he has the magic touch.

Video

1.85:1 widescreen, using the MPEG4/AVC codec. Unusually, I found the picture particularly soft throughout the movie. There was definite fine detail missing in strands of hair and foreground (and background) elements. This is very surprising given the movie is from 2008. This problem also doesn't seem to stem from DNR or other processing. The print simply looks soft. The rest of the picture is good, with strong colours and decent contrast. The bright scenes look accurate while the darker scenes still have a nice amount of contrast. All the exotic locations have no trouble with plethora of greens, blues and other colours. Skin tones are good, as well. Print and digital defects are never a problem, as the transfer is very clean, apart, of course, from the undue softness. I've read reviews espousing the great detail and sharpness of the picture, but I find these comments highly confusing.

Audio

The main track is a English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Spanish and French DTS 5.1 dubs are also provided. The dialogue is always clear and centered. A few comments come from one side or the other when called for, as well. The big splash of waves crash through your living room, and the score squeezes to all speakers. There's also plenty of atmospheric noise in restaurants and outdoors. Volume levels are also pretty accurate, with big waves being much louder than wispy dialogue.
English (HoH), Spanish and French subtitles are provided.

Extras

Universal was extemely nice to both the standard and high def versions of the movie. Oddly enough, both versions have exclusive extras. The standard release has some auditions and a Cinemax featurette not found on this edition. Now, let's get to what this edition does have.

First up is an audio commentary by director Nick Stoller, executive producers Shauna Robertson and Rodney Rothman, writer/actor Jason Segel and actors Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand and Jack McBrayer. In short, this gang is a lot of fun. They joke, they explain scenes, talk about the tons and tons and tons of on-set fun they had. It's a total blast to listen to this, even if it's just to hear Jason Segel's creazy real-life stories.

A few Deleted and Extended Scenes are next. None of the scences are really necessary for the film, but they do keep the same tone and level of humour. They're actually all funny, and are all enjoyable. Many of these scenes concentrate on Sarah and Aldous and their relationship. The scenes are: 'Scooter' (0:45), 'Lamp 1' (1:33), 'Lamp 2' (2:01), 'Horseback Riding' (4:10), 'Darald and Wyoma at the Luau' (0:50), 'Peter Plays Drunk Piano' (1:34), 'Lip Reading' (1:08), 'Sarah and Aldous in Bed' (2:11), 'Aborted Sex' (1:46), 'Airport Goodbye' (2:04) and 'What Are You Gonna Do Now?' (1:17).

A whole bunch of outtakes are next, in various different categories. You have Puppet Break-Up (2:29), Line-O-Rama (7:49), Sex-O-Rama (2:42), Drunk-O-Rama (2:29) and a Gag Reel (5:44) show the goofing off on set. They just show lines and gags taht didn't make it into the movie. They're hilarious and unusually enough, what ended up in the movie is actually funnier.

A Taste for Love (6:17) is a featurette about the puppetry in the movie, and is pretty funny. 'Dracula's Lament' (Table Read 4/7/07) (3:12) is a table read of the song in the bar the first time Pete sings the Dracula song.

Russell Brand has a few extras dedicated to himself. Russell Brand: Aldous Snow (5:55) is another featurette, all about the actor. The cast and crew talk about how he got the part, and Mr. Brand talks about his part in the movie. They show you some audition moments, and they're really funny. The Letter 'U' (3:45) is an absolutely hilarous scene thay may or may not have been shot for the movie. Regardless, it has Aldous Snow in a 'Sesame Street'-type street, teaching a couple of children about the letter U, singing his hit song, 'Inside of You'. Funny stuff. The 'We've Got to Do Something' Music Video (3:47) is next, showing you the complete video seeing only in a clip in the movie.

There's a section called Crime Scene is next. There are some Alt Scenes (2:17) and Hunter Rush Line-O-Rama (1:53). The scenes are moments that didn't make it into the movie, and the Line-O-Rama is Billy Baldwin's best impression of Horation Cain, mocking Cain's cheesy lines. Sarah's New Show – Alts. (2:15) has the shows that didn't make the movie. The last one, 'Jesus H. Cop', i the best one.

Some Raw Footage – Video Chat (7:13) are just more moments that didn't make the movie. These outtakes in particular show how much fun these guys had on set, as both Jason Segel and Bill Hader both crack up more often that lines said straight.

The longest extra of the disc is the Video Diaries (35:16), separated into 21 parts. It follows the crew from start of principle photography to last day of filming, and, again, shows the tremendous fun the entire cast and crew had on set. This is a great watch. The Red Band Trailer (2:55) is next, and definitely earns it's red band.

Now, the high-def exclusive extras come in. Universal's U-Control option is here for people who have Bonus-View enabled players (aka Profile 1.1 compliant players). There are three options: Picture-in-Picture Commentary, Visual Commentary and Karaoke. The PiP commentary, as usually shows plenty of behind-the-scenes footage, along with various interview bits with the cast and crew. Once again, the amusement had on set seemed to have been very high. It's a great watch for everybody, but fans of the movie will especially enjoy this.

The visual commentary, as opposed to other visual commmentaries I've seen, lasts the entire movie. It's really nice, as the group gets pretty active, looking around at each other and gesticulating various things. Watching this actually makes you feel like you're there.

The Karaoke option is just what you think it is. There are many songs during the movie, and when they play, you have the option to watch them karaoke-style, with or without vocals.

Rounding out this terrific set is a digital copy of the film on the second disc. I haven't been this enthusiastic about movie extras in a long time, but this is the best package I've seen in a very, very long time. Fans of the movie, or of great extras, will really get a kick out of this entire set.

Overall

The Film: A- Video: C+ Audio: B Extras: A Overall: B+

 


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