Forgetting Sarah Marshall
R
Entertainment: +1
Acceptability: -4

Jason Segel, Paul Rudd, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis. Comedy. Written by Jason Segel. Directed by Nicholas Stoller.

FILM SYNOPSIS: From the producers of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up comes a comic look at a sloppy slackers arduous quest to get over the heartbreak of being dumped by his fiance. After an unsuccessful bout of womanizing and an on-the-job nervous breakdown, he sets out to clear his head by vacationing in Hawaii. But the nightmare continues when he discovers his ex and her hip new British-rocker boyfriend have checked into the same hotel.

PREVIEW REVIEW: One step at a time, one film at a time, a young generation has become consumed by the crassness, vulgarity and bad taste that masquerades as comic entertainment. Teens and twenty-somethings must assume by now that all humor comes from jolting shock value, because, with few exceptions, thats all theyre presented at the local cineplex. In Rogets Thesaurus, behind the word comedy, nineteen synonyms are listed, including comedy of manners, farce, satire, slapstick, play of wit and burlesque. None of these terms honestly describes the efforts of many of todays comic filmmakers. Most funnymen of today mine their gags from below the surfaces of bawdy and burlesque.

The easiest way to make someone laugh is by surprising them with a visual that counters public decency. We are told from childhood that we shouldnt pass gas in front of someone or discuss the functions of the male penis in front of the opposite sex. So, when someone does these things on screen, it evokes a stunned reaction, which is then released through involuntary laughter, much like a sneeze. This sort of visual is not generated from clever wit, but rather, from sophomoric startlement. Frankly, it bugs me. Writers of whimsy are either told by studio honchos to write down (which should insult moviegoers) or they just dont have the imagination to come up with a humorous view of the human condition without the aid of scatological coarseness. And thats my problem with this film. Its humor never strays far from the bathroom.

Jason Segel, who displays a gentle side on How I Met Your Mother and a buffoonish Neanderthal in Knocked Up, has written the screenplay, giving himself the lead. Not that he should be proud of that achievement. Weve seen this same boorish man-child dozens of times in the past few years. Hes a slob, like most of Will Ferrells man-childs. Indeed, ever since The Odd Couples Oscar Madison declared I got brown sandwiches and green sandwiches, the screen perception of the male bachelor has been that of an unkempt, uncouth slob. Well, not in my house. Felix Unger is my hero. But I digress.

Austin Powers Mike Myers has confessed that there are no limits to where screen humor should be mined high or low brow chuckles are all the same. So, along with his clever concept of Dr. Evil guesting on a Jerry Springer show, musing over the difficulties of being a super villain, he has also created Fat Bastard, an obese antagonist who spends much of his screen time describing his need to defecate. Will Ferrell adheres to this anything-for-a-laugh philosophy by running around in what seems nearly every film covered only by dingy underwear. And now Jason Segel follows in this mindset, by shedding his boxers to display his hind quarters, and on several occasions also revealing the man-childs favorite organ. (That visual resulted in lots of giggles from an astonished screening audience the first time. By the third exposure, we began to wonder if Mr. Segel supplemented his income by doing porno.)

Now, dont misunderstand, Im not saying that viewing a bared private part will lead us all back to cave-dwelling. I am suggesting with the evidence of each proceeding envelope-pushing comic movie to back up my theory that film humor is getting more prurient and less smart. Youre being insulted and cheated by filmmakers who get rich by aiming down.

This may seem more a critique of our culture than of this movie. But how else do you review this film? Universal Studios has enough money to hire a competent cameraman and enough loot to take cast and crew to pretty locations. And because theyve been making comedies for a hundred years, they know how to tickle the funny bone. Todays producers just give ticket buyers what they want. Or at least what they are willing to accept.

DVD alternatives: The Awful Truth. This classic screwball comedy has Cary Grant and Irene Dunne as a divorced couple sabotaging each others new relationships. Grant reveals his expert touch with physical and verbal comic timing. Forget its age, its a perfect comedy.

Or:

I.Q. (1994) Walter Matthau, Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins. Albert Einstein has fun putting aside his physics to play Cupid for his pedantic niece and the local good guy/car mechanic. Romantic, literate and downright funny. PG (one scene features sexual double entendre and there are two mild expletives, but I caught no sexual situations, violence, or obscene language).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Universal

Summary
Crude Language: A great deal of crude humor throughout.
Obscene Language: Around 50 obscenities, mostly the f-word.
Profanity: Three misuses of Gods name, one of Christs and several uses of the expression oh my God.
Violence: A couple of fist fight scenes, mostly played for laughs; a couple jumps off a hazardous cliff.
Sexual Intercourse: Some extremely graphic sexual situations, there to depict an escape from a broken heart; all the characters are promiscuous; a newlywed couple are shown having difficulty consummating their marriage, then finding sexual gratification; these scenes depict a religious couple, though I didnt sense they were being mocked just pictured as up-tight.
Nudity: A couple of brief shots of a female flashing; several times we see full frontal male nudity.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Several graphic sexual discussions.
Drug Abuse: A great deal of drinking, with several people getting drunk in order to deal with life problems; a waiter is also depicted as a drug dealer, having a phone conversation with a prospective buyer of weed.
Other: Raunchy humor throughout; Jason Segel makes Will Ferrell look classy.
Running Time: 112 minutes
Intended Audience: Adolescent Adults

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