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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.

This is the End (2013)

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Fantastical, raunchy, and utterly insane. “This is the End” crosses over multiple genres and does so with an infinite supply of humour, sentiment, and flare. While you can expect the downright nasty and over-the-top hilarity that comes when you trap these funny, vaguely immature guys in the same room. You might also want to prepare for an abundance of heart-stopping moments and excessive, albeit comical, gore. With a plethora of high-profile cameos and a seemingly never-ending chain of body-aching laughs, that more often than not stem from stupidity and selfishness. “This is the End” is a brilliant showcase of the top-dogs in comedy and really magnifies the genre’s constant stream of disappointments. Thank heavens these guys can take a joke just as well as they give them. “This is the End” is everything you think it is, and surprisingly, so much more.

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Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to spend the weekend with his old friend Seth Rogen. After getting high and hanging out all afternoon together, Seth invites Jay to James Franco’s home for a housewarming party. Afraid that Seth will ditch him at the party, Jay is very distant and unfriendly. Later on in the night, the two walk to a nearby convenience store to buy cigarettes. While rummaging through the candy and beverages, beams of blue light break through the ceiling and carry patrons into the sky. The two rush back to James’s house through the carnage and chaos that awaited them outside. When a series of unsavoury events take place soon after, the party-goers come to the realization that the apocalypse is upon them.

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After the atrocious entries for “comedy of the summer” such as “The Hangover: Part 3” and “The Internship” universally and predictably failed in all their incessant and unnecessary glory, and with nothing scheduled to blow any serious smoke. “This is the End” as of the moment, is easily in the lead and front-runner to win the title outright. Obviously the restricted rating limits its financial success as it excludes a majority of the immature, loud-mouthed youth, which just so happens to be the target audience. Regardless, “This is the End” should create enough critical and box-office success to be one of the best films of the summer. Besides Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” “This is the End” has the potential to be the sleeper hit of the summer. With its spiritual premise, quirky cliches, and nasty, unrelenting humour. “This is the End” is that rare breed who’s staying-power is truly unlimited.

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Yes, you may be able to predict a good chunk of the jokes before-hand and of course there is a substantial amount of vulgarity and sexual references, both abusive and consensual. Nonetheless, “This is the End” has a few tricks up its sleeve and part of its unforeseen effectiveness stems from its unpredictable nature. “This is the End” has a story that has been tread and retread time and time again. What makes this go-around unique is unprecedented sappiness and a heartwarming core. Through all the punch-lines down in the muck, surprisingly, there are moments of sheer joy and meaning which truly separates “This is the End” from the pack. Aside from its demented comedic taste and chummy sweetness, “This is the End” offers up a few genuine scares and brilliant CGI work, something no one expected from this buddy-comedy under the influence.

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Written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. “This is the End” also stars James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Jay Baruchel. Now, there is no question that this group of guys know their way around a joke and how to create an endless supply of quote-worthy dialogue. Still, it is always a nice change-of-pace to see them break out the dramatic chops. Franco, without question is the most accomplished of the cast, yet plays the least grounded and sensible character. McBride and Robinson, easily the most underrated of the group, finally get another chance to showcase their talents. Rogen and Baruchel, the films two leads, form a brilliant duo who need to make amends before the apocalypse takes their lives. As for Jonah Hill, whom I love, I’ll put it this way. He is the one you least want to make it out alive.

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Performed with outstanding charisma and hilarious circumstances, “This is the End” isn’t your typical doomsday flick.

This is the End: 8 out of 10.

Here is a list of the film’s cameos. let me know if I missed anybody.

Jason Segel, Channing Tatum, Rihanna, Michael Cera, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Paul Rudd, Aziz Ansari, Emma Watson.

Knocked Up (2007)

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Outrageously hilarious, satisfyingly poignant, and spewing with talent. Knocked up is a fresh take on the odd-couple cliche with just enough raunchiness, growth, and sweetness to win over even the most skeptical or disgruntled viewer. While it may not be sending the best message on courtship. Knocked up is a romantic comedy that has adapted to the times and through all its mishaps and immaturity, ultimately does right by convention and emotion. Taking full advantage of its sleazy premise to subtly convey socio-political themes to an uninhibited generation. Knocked up has the ideal balance of comedy, romance, and relevance to be taken seriously by its viewers while still remaining vastly entertaining. Written and directed by prolific genre advocate and veteran Judd Apatow. Knocked Up is an obscure love-story about two unexpected parents dealing with the unpredictability of life.

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Ben Stone (Rogen) is a laid-back slacker who lives off funds he received as compensation for an injury he suffered earlier in his life. He lives with several roommates and works on a porn website they all own and operate. Alison Scott (Heigl), an on-air reporter, lives in the pool house of her sister home. The two meet by chance at a club and spend a night together, which ends with them having sex. After some time has passed, Alison finds out she is pregnant and is persuaded by her mother to abort the baby. Upon deciding to keep the baby, Alison informs Ben of the situation and that he is the father. What follows is an unflinching look at relationships and life.

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Even though some of Apatow’s overly stereotypical and decidedly vulgar humour may turn the occasional viewer off. The timing and circumstance in which these crude, at times foreseeable jokes are delivered is undeniably impeccable and results in out-loud fits of laughter. Aside from Apatow’s comedic preferences which is, without question an acquired taste. His ability to mask the simplicity and triviality of his characters predicaments is unrivalled. It would be easy to confuse the commonness of Knocked Up as weakness and label it unintelligent. Actually, it’s quite the contrary. Apatow’s clever, insightful story showcases his diverse range. It seems that he is always making something out of nothing. Whether it’s an awkwardly shy young adult shaving his nether regions or two intoxicated adults absorbing the night life, Apatow finds the silver lining.

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Apart from the fact that Apatow’s most recent efforts haven’t been as strong as his earlier work. His scripts have always remained grounded and charming, and Knocked Up is no different. The follow-up to the massively successful, The 40 Year Old Virgin. Knocked Up never loses sight of its characters aspirations or history, no matter how bizarre and sociopathic they may be. Knocked Up is Apatow’s most complete, honest, and endearing effort to date. His quirky, intelligent, and heartfelt script really puts Knocked Up a notch above the rest. However, without the right cast to accompany such odd, complex roles beaming with hilarity and emotional depth. Knocked Up would become another meaningless entry into a genre that becomes less and less respected with each new, half-assed release. Thank heavens that this is not the case.

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One of the most rewarding aspects of compiling a cast with history is never having to worry about chemistry. The majority of Knocked Up’s cast has previously worked together on earlier Apatow projects such as Freaks and Geeks and The 40 Year Old Virgin. Starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, and Jonah Hill. Plus a slew of other big name stars. Knocked Up has arguably one of the most prominent and comedically talented casts to ever grace a romantic comedy. Side note, there is also a hilarious cameo from James Franco.

It was quite the surprise to see the range Rogen has in his repertoire, considering he doesn’t use it very often. For Knocked Up, Rogen, without question gives the most vulnerable, believable performance. Sporting a face ripe with the fear, love, and courage. Rogen perfectly captures the unsteady eagerness of a soon-to-be parent. As for Rogen’s co-star, Katherine Heigl. She offers a splendid rendition of an individualistic, tough feminist brought to the brink of her sanity. Pushing her body mentally and physically to the limit, Heigl gives a truly outstanding performance.

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With an astounding script, lively performances, and strong direction. Knocked Up is a touching romantic comedy full of hilarity.

Knocked Up: 9 out of 10.

This Is 40 (2012)

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A weaker outing from the brilliant Judd Apatow. This is 40’s familiar (possibly overused) cast is not as effective this go around. Once again treading relevant waters. Apatow is known for his ability to keep his pictures heartfelt and grounded while still being able to evoke hilarity out of common situations. This time, the comedic twists, nor the emotion are as potent as his previous efforts. This “sort of” sequel to Knocked Up is “sort of” not near as entertaining. For all of this mouthing off, it actually wasn’t that bad. It still has more depth and laughs than any spoof or hackneyed comedy picture. But if it wasn’t for the performances of John Lithgow and Albert Brooks, I would have completely discarded this film. Also starring Apatow’s family, who’ve become quite frustrating as they’ve become more orbited as well as the always hilarious Paul Rudd. This is 40 has the potential but fails without consistency.

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A few years after the events in Knocked Up. Pete and Debbie begin to struggle with their age and the needs of their two daughters as they continue to grow. While undertaking initiatives to better themselves physically and emotionally, Pete and Debbie begin to unearth buried tribulations. They decide to confront their parents about the neglected youth they suffered through and the financial problems surrounding the family. On top of that, Debbie and Pete become more involved in their own children’s lives which has, initially, a negative effect. While Pete and Debbie continue to learn as they go, unforeseen events begin to destroy their relationship.

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You can obtain as many guest appearances from relevant celebrities you feel necessary. But unless you entwine them into the story with meaning, it becomes painfully apparent that it is just a ploy to keep the sinking afloat. With This is 40, the issues present, more than Apatow’s other chapters, seem to deal with problems outside the norm which renders its overall theme ineffective. The pop culture references and endless annoyances of youth don’t add any hilarity to the film. In fact, conversely it dwindles its intended broadness and damages its overall relevance. This Is 40 is Apatow’s most emotional picture to date, but the humour is faded and the connectivity is not as strong or as universal as in his previous films. While it may conjure up some big laughs, its overall tone and reliability suffers.

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I couldn’t resist putting a picture of this in the review.

This Is 40: 6 out of 10.