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Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)

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Establishing an exquisite symmetry between its smart, at times raunchy hilarity and disheartening insight into humanities innermost feelings. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a true romantic-comedy that is leaps and bounds beyond the genre’s usual trash. First time director Nicholas Stoller does a sublime job and manages to squeeze every last drop of comedic aptitude and emotional range from his tenacious cast. Using the tranquil and breathtaking Hawaii as its backdrop. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is always easy on the eyes whether it’s the scenery or cast, except for one, unexpected and exposed incident ;). Nonetheless, the authentic and unflinching look into the deterioration of relationships that writer Jason Segel has conjured up is something we’ve all experienced at one point or another. Which ultimately allows the audience to laugh uncontrollably at our own vulnerability and self-pity.

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Peter Bretter (Segel), a composer, is in a five year relationship with actress Sarah Marshall (Bell). Upon returning home from a shoot, Sarah ends the relationship with Peter. Unable to cope with the abrupt ending, Peter decides to go on a vacation to Hawaii. At the resort, Peter soon meets Rachel (Kunis), the hotel concierge. Upon finding out that Sarah and her new boyfriend Aldous Snow (Brand) are also staying at the resort, Peter begins to follow them around. Taking advice from his brother, Peter begins spending time with Rachel and the two develop feelings for one another. Soon, Sarah becomes jealous of Peter and Rachel and the two couples set out to destroy the other.

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What is most assuring about Forgetting Sarah Marshall is that even though it technically has Apatow written all over it. Aside from the producing credit, the film actually has little to no connection with him. I’m not discrediting Apatow, far from it. I’m very fond of his style and pictures. I am simply stating that the future of the genre looks a little brighter when he isn’t the only name in the game. Directed by Stoller and written by Segel. Forgetting Sarah Marshall has an abundance of fresh faces to bolster a sparse breed. It is excessively difficult to depict real-life scenarios and the ones who can are few and far between. Now, with a slew of up-and-comers that have this capability. Cinema doesn’t appear to be losing all meaning and depth. What Segel and Stoller have created is much bigger than they realize.

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Whether it is the witty, clever, or sheer idiotic humour. Jason Segel, best known for his role as Marshall in How I Met Your Mother, displays his ingenuity in spades. Although, it isn’t always his keen eye for laughs that makes the viewers insides ache. His ability to evoke an endless source of empathy, joy, sadness, spite, essentially all the relevance of existence is masterful. In coordination with the aforementioned Nicholas Stoller. Segel is able to form a cohesiveness around Forgetting Sarah Marshall that almost makes it free from error. As for Stoller, who’s direction as a first-timer is remarkable, makes up for any faltering. You’d wouldn’t figure it was his initiation into directing considering how accomplished his form behind the camera is. Together, the two create a formidable duo who’s next collaboration is much anticipated.

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I don’t really know the reason why I love this film. Essentially right from the get go I was smitten. Perhaps that I happened to be in a similar situation around the time of its release intoxicated me, but I digress. Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s sweet and funny cast really completes the film. Featuring Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, and Russell Brand. Without this complimenting foursome, Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s ageless story would not have the emotion, hilarity, or flare in its potency. The film also features hilarious cameos from Bill Hader and Jonah Hill.

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If I’m being completely honest, to say that my respect for Kunis and Bell was restricted would be putting it lightly. In my defence, this film was released in 2008 and Black Swan hadn’t been released yet. Since then, my admiration for the two has grown significantly, thanks in large part to Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Cards on the table, Bell really hasn’t impressed me since. Now that she’s proven she has the chops, I expect more from her and she continues to do these idiotic romantic comedies. Regardless, Bell is extravagant in the film and deserves better than what she’s getting. As for Kunis, well, she really steals the show. Conveying such emotional range and this flirty charm, one can’t help but fall for her, easily the best performance in the film.

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It’s hard to imagine a time when Russell Brand wasn’t everywhere, but in 2008, this was the case. Until Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Brand pretty much flew under-the-radar. This was easily the role that launched Brand into a respectable actor and after following it up with Stoller’s next film, Get Him to the Greek, Brand proves it was no fluke. Finally, Jason Segel, who pulls double duty as the lead and writer of the film. Really gets a chance to assert himself amongst comedy’s best and doesn’t waste the opportunity. Segel’s performance is second only to Kunis, who honestly has the better written role. Segel does a superb job exuding the melancholic stupidity that usual accompanies heartbreak. Not to mention a series of sequences that allows him to showcase his dramatic skills. Overall, Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s cast is nearly faultless in their portrayals.

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Outrageously funny and undeniably heartfelt. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a romantic comedy for the ages.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall: 8.5 out of 10.

Adventureland (2009)

Just a quick review today as I am off to Niagara Falls for the weekend. I’ll more than likely post tomorrow as well but it will probably be a bit later than my usual posting time. Anyway, enjoy and have a great weekend!

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Bursting at the seams with nostalgia, wit, humour, and seductiveness. Adventureland is a rambunctious, yet sweetly subtle coming-of-age romantic comedy oozing with angst and clever diction that resonates not only with young ones, but adults as well. Investing a substantial amount in the directionless, hormone driven motivations of youth, their lack of aspirations, and facing the difficult transition into adulthood. Adventureland benefits from an idealistic, simplistic nature and a slew of staggering performances. Greg Mottola, who wrote and directed this retro love story. Substitutes the profanity and raunchiness of his previous effort Superbad, with a tale of heartfelt infatuation and whimsical comedy that even seizes its timeless cliches.

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In the year 1987, James (Eisenberg) plans to travel through Europe in the summer before heading off to attend an Ivy League school. After graduation, his parents inform him of their major career setbacks and that he will not be going to Europe or doing any of his future endeavours unless he obtains a job. Upon being rejected at almost every decent place of employment, James manages to find a place in the rundown amusement park, Adventureland. When James faces an unlikely, possibly dangerous situation, he is rescued by a striking co-worker named Em (Stewart). As he continues to struggle through the summer, he finds himself falling for Em. Finding caring, reliable friends in other various employees as well as Paulette (Wiig) and Bobby (Hader), who are Adventureland managers. James begins to find his current situation not only tolerable, but favourable. Befriending a machine repair man named Mike (Reynolds), James begins to learn life lessons as he transfers into adulthood.

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Absorbing the comical imperfections and endearing elements of Adventureland’s charismatic leads inflicts a dizzying, subdued, ageless state among the viewer. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and Ryan Reynolds supported, rather, accompanied by Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, Adventureland has no shortage of capable employees. Eisenberg’s quirky, bordering sociopathic awkwardness is entrancingly comical and infectious. Reynolds, who’s role is ingeniously uncharacteristic, is predictably stellar as his performance is particularly polarizing and deviously convincing. Hader and Wiig, in limited roles, still manage to produce the most uproarious laughs and also showcase their more serious, professional talents. As for Stewart, she unleashes pheromones that will leave you defenceless and willingly vulnerable to her undeniable attractiveness and warmth.

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One of the more outstanding qualities about Adventureland, albeit, lesser known qualities is its fluidity and authenticity. Never, at any point, does the dialogue, interactions, or story ever appear forced. This is imperative to a film that so broadly relies on the believability of its circumstances and  connectivity of its cast. This can be attributed to Mottola’s invested, realistic script and firm, but flexible direction. He elegantly captures the distinct vibe and flow of the films intentional historic feel and exaggerates the situation to unnecessary severity. His ability to control the captivation his immature characters want so recklessly to exist is remarkable. Coincidentally, the reason Adventureland resonates so strongly with its audience is evoked through the time and effort poured into the film in its entirety by the cast and crew.

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Adventureland: 9 out of 10.

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