Blu Ray Title: Forgetting Sarah Marshall - Unrated
Disk Release Date: 9/30/08
Rated: Unrated and R rated cuts available on same disk
Screen format: 1080P, 1.85:1 High Definition
First theatrical release: 18 April, 2008
Previous releases on disk: Day and Date with Anamorphic Widescreen DVD
Director: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Russell Brand
Sound Formats: English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish & French DTS 5.1
Length: 1 Hour 51 minutes for rated version, 1 hour 58 minutes for the unrated, both on a single BD-50
Subtitles: English, Spanish and French
Forgetting Sarah Marshall was written by its star, Jason Segel, directed by first time helmer Nicholas Stollar (best known as the screenwriter of Fun with Dick and Jane) and produced by Judd Apatow of Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin fame. I mention this up front because all involved are Apatow veterans and while he was ‘only’ listed as a producer here this film is marketed as having come from the guys responsible for those two films and as a romantic comedy sharing the same parentage as those films and having the same devious humor at their root.
While Apatow’s fingerprints are all over this film it seems that the combination of Segel and Stollar have crafted one of the most bizarre and unique romatic comedies I’ve ever seen. So far I have seen both the complete R rated and Unrated versions and sat through cast and crew commentary while the Unrated version played another time through, and I’m still not sure if I really LIKE the film or just am impressed at how original the material is!
At its heart this is a simple story. Slacker musician Peter (Segal) has his life turned upside down when his girlfriend, TV star Sarah Marshall (Bell) dumps him and tells him she is seeing another guy. To escape his misery Peter heads for Hawaii where he is shocked to find Sarah and her new beau, rocker Aldous Snow (Brand) shacking up. Despite not having any available rooms a perky hotel receptionist, Rachel (Kunis) takes pity on Peter, putting him up in their biggest suite, which would normally cost $6k per night. Hijinks ensue when Peter gets trapped in between falling for Rachel and discovering that both he and Sarah still have feelings and unresolved issues between them.
If that was all there was this would still have been a film with potential, but the supporting cast of characters adds new layers of depth and hilarity. From a waiter with a crush on Snow to a burned out surf instructor to the hotel employees who have entirely different lives outside of their day jobs there’s a lot to keep track of as this film progresses.
And then the bombshell hits. Peter has apparently been writing a ‘rock opera’ about Dracula for the past ten years, and Rachel first gets him to perform one of the songs at an after hours bar and later Peter decides on his own to stage the full production. With puppets. And not just any puppets, but ‘Jim Henson Workshop’ puppets. It is completely surreal and yet sweet in its own way, plus more than a little bit creepy.
As a sex comedy Sarah Marshall is even more bizarre, as the R rated version features more full frontal male nudity than female, and while there are quite a few couplings throughout the film, each one has its own little odd twist, and none of them are really titillating. The Unrated version adds a bit more flesh and some funnier bits, but still the fact remains that the film really explores the emotional journey a hyper emotional man takes more than it does his conquests and failures.
The funny thing is that the closest film I can compare it to is ‘Love in the time of Cholera’, except the poor shmoe we are rooting for doesn’t have to wait 60 years to get the girl of his dreams, he loses the girl of his dreams and lucks out by finding that he wasn’t really happy and didn’t even know it until she was gone and he had fully moved on.
Sound Quality: 2.5/5
FSM is heavily front focused and pretty weak as far as bass and surround action goes with a few exceptions. During the Dracula’s Lament Puppet show both come alive pretty nicely. The rest of the film features laid back romantic music often reinterpreted in a Hawaiian flavor by a band known as ‘The Coconuts’. Cake provides a rip of a track called ‘Love you Madly’ and there is another song I can only refer to as “F-ing Boyfriend” by The Bird and the Bee that is hysterical. Dialogue is always crisp and clear and the music is deeply ingrained into the soundtrack, but there isn’t really anything above and beyond what you would expect here.
Visual Quality: 3.5/5
Most of the film has a pretty balanced look, which I would consider normal for a moderate budget romantic comedy. While outdoor scenes are colorful and sharp, I did find several close ups of the primary cast’s faces to be notably soft, but I suspect that is a defect of the filming process itself. Grain is present and prevalent, tho I only found it particularly distracting when I watched this the third time around up close on an LCD panel, when viewed on my front projector it blended in smoothly and helped give the film a lot of character. I didn’t notice any artificial sharpening but I was warned to keep an eye out for Macroblocking when Peter is in the doctor’s office (9:48 frame 12) and it is visible quickly there, and I never noticed it again. Had I not been told to look for it before hand I wouldn’t have see it on either set and only caught it on the second run through. If you frame advance it you can definitely see it tho and it is not present on the extended version so this is local to that particular scene’s transfer. This is a first for me seeing this phenomenon on Blu.
Extra Features: 5+/5
The number and quality of the extras is simply off the hook in this release. First consider that both the theatrical and unrated versions are available on this single sided double layer disk in full HD with DTS MA soundtrack. Add to that that theatrical cut is added in the box on a second disk (a standard DVD) for use in transferring to iPods and other portable devices. Count in both an feature length audio commentary track PLUS a U-Control selectable Video commentary track and a second PiP ‘making of’ track that goes behind the scenes with cast and crew. Add in a ‘U-Control feature that allows you view the musical numbers in the film in a Karaoke sing along plus BD-Live features which are not active until street date. And then you get to the menu selectable extras which last three pages.
The renowned Apatow ‘O-Rama’s are the feature here, with Line0o-Rama, Sex-O-Rama and Drunk-O-Rama allowing the actors to riff on each of these scenes to come up with the funniest takes. There’s a half dozen deleted scenes which actually have funny content for once. There are alternate versions of Bell’s fake TV show including alternative versions for the new show she goes to at the end of the film. There’s a gag reel, a fifteen segment video diary from filming, a really bad fake TV show featuring Aldous and the Letter U, an Aldous Video, and extended versions of the Apple iChats that occur in the film.
The piece de resistance for me tho was a short scene featuring the puppets in a breakup scenario that was funnier than anything in the film! There is literally 8-10 hours worth of stuff you can go through if you watch it all and most of it is pretty damn good.
Overall: 3.5/5 (not an average)
While I still can’t put my finger on just how much I liked this film I have to admit that it is a truly unique take on something all too many of us have had to deal with in our lives. While the character's backgrounds make them a bit hard to relate to they also add to their appeal and the humor in the story. But it is the whole puppet angle that just blows my mind and made me question ‘just what the heck is that?’. Fortunately I had plenty of time to let it all sink in and hear what the cast, crew and director thought about it all, and none were more revealing than Segel’s own comments as he used his own experiences as a sprigboard for the script and incorporated the other similar breakup stories of the director and cast to expand on it.
I have to also point out that this is the first time that Universal has included a second disk with a downloadable copy of the film, and while I would prefer to not add cost for this disk (an iTunes download code or including the film directly on the BD disk for transfer to a PS3 would be better in my opinion), we have to keep in mind this is just the tip of what might be done with these downloads and we will have to keep a very close eye on where they head.
While this film might not be directly in the heart of the HTF demographic it’s a solid romantic comedy that gave me more than a fair share of laughs so I can definitely suggest it for rental as a minimum!