Forgetting Sarah Marshall is yet another successful example of the Judd Apatow formula. Which is not to discredit the film’s star and writer, Jason Segel, or it’s director, Nicholas Stoller. In fact, it is Apatow’s commitment to providing those faithful members of his long-gestating troupe with an opportunity to put their own personal stories up there on screen that makes this movie work as well, if not better, than the last five or six or seven Apatow-produced hits.
I went to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall at the Vista, in Los Angeles, in the area known as Los Feliz. It’s a beautiful theater and I went to see it with a beautiful girl. It was last Saturday, and we were both hung-over from a debauchery-laden Friday night. I had gone to the Mickey Avalon show with a co-worker. She had gone out on a date with some dude. When she got home from her date she called me and we talked as I drunkenly looked for parking in my notoriously crowded neighborhood.
After circling my apartment for 30 minutes (damn those Jumbo’s patrons!!!) and finding no parking I drove to her place. Standing on her porch I told her we should finish the conversation in person. “What do you mean?” she asked. “I’m at your front door,” I said. As she opened the door, comforter in hand, and told me I was sleeping on the couch I walked into her bedroom and passed out on her bed. She got in after me, but lived up to her oft-repeated declaration that she does not “touch people” when she’s sleeping. I do, but respectfully so. Nevertheless, nothing happened.
In the morning (ahem, noonish) we watched about six episodes of The Office on her computer. I’d taken as many Aleves before we finally decided on seeing the 4:20 Sarah Marshall. I went home and took a shower and got my shit together, eating lunch and lying around watching CNN. Trying my best to feel human again. (For those who don’t know, a Mickey Avalon/Dirt Nasty/Andre Legacy/ Beardo show will bring out the Roadhouse in you.)
I got to the theater first, having walked the short distance from Winona Blvd to Vermont & Sunset, and bought both tickets. I’m a good-seat fanatic, and openly refer to people who show up to movies less than 25 minutes prior as “amateurs” (and I think I have a point). Anyway, I left her ticket with the door. I bought popcorn and soda, and then got seats right behind that stoner dude from Road Trip and his supremely hot blonde girlfriend. She wore a scarf that kicked up her hotness factor by about 30 percent, and his hair was noticeably trimmed from his Road Trip days. They looked to be in love in that passive, blank, it’ll-be-over-soon-so-let’s-enjoy-it kinda way. And just because I think it has a comic lilt, I’ll tell you the Road Trip guy’s name is Paulo Costanzo. Why not, right?
The movie played, and it was funny and touching, in that very Apatow way, that alternately hilarious and tear-jerking style that he pioneered in Freaks & Geeks. The movie is 112 minutes long but feels longer. That’s usually not a compliment, but I think here it is. Forgetting Sarah Marshall delivered numerous moments where the entire audience was howling with laughter. But there were just as many moments where one could drop a pin and here it “ting” as it hit the floor, because more often than not, Segel’s Peter Bretter was in some heart-breaking situation where he just didn’t know what to do with his love. He didn’t know what to do with his life or his friendships or his family. He was a dude alone. Susceptible to pity, susceptible to his ex, susceptible to whimsy at just about every turn. It’s the most Woody Allenesque of all the Apatow productions so far. And that is a good thing.
After the movie ended, the girl I was with dropped me back at my apartment. In lieu of a proper wrap up, I’ll just say that the following exchange occurd: “Don’t be weird.” “I’m not. You don’t be weird.” Then eye-rolls were met with eye-rolls. And sad smiles with sad smiles. Then a high five was given through the sun roof before the car moved up the street toward Franklin.
The next day, Sunday, we did not talk. Monday I sent an email saying I couldn’t talk to her anymore – for reasons that would bore anyone with a life to death.
I guess I weaved that whole narrative through the review just because it seemed to work. Just because it reminds me why we go to the movies. At the end of Forgetting Sarah Marshall Jason Segel gets to live out his fantasy. And god bless Judd Apatow for letting these guys who normally wouldn’t stand a chance in this town realize their bitter sweet fantasies, over and over and over again.