Down the road, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this recent batch of Judd Apatow comedies ranked as some of the best of the genre… ever. His impressive streak, beginning with 40 Year Old Virgin (and with the exception of Drillbit Taylor) are all top tier productions. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, despite its typical romantic comedy stylings, it easily on par with anything Apatow has produced in terms of its laughs.
Full credit goes to Jason Segel for going the extra mile in a truly horrific way, purely for laughs. That out of the way, his character is the lovable loser, struggling to get away from his TV star ex-girlfriend (Kristen Bell). In a rather contrived yet still mildly plausible scenario, his attempt to get away also happens to be where his ex chose to go with her new boyfriend.
The Hawaiian backdrop is a gorgeous set piece to this well-written, raunchy, and flat out hilarious comedy. Forgetting Sarah Marshall has the proper ingredients to make it work. All of the characters, even those with small bit parts, are spot on. Jack McBrayer actually gets some of the best lines in the film, if not the the best.
The story takes a natural flow, and the relationships build and crumble with a believable timeline. Mila Kunis is exceptional as the girl who slowly helps Segel come around after his crushing break-up. She’s peppy, fun to watch, and never feels like a typical “movie” girlfriend. The script ensures she’s given material to work with that’s both funny and emotional.
Awkward situations increase in their hilarity as the film moves on. Russell Brand play a clueless music star, hilariously out of touch with reality. The fact that anyone could deal with him for any amount of time is a stretch, but for laughs, the audience can buy into Kristin Bell falling for him.
Sarah Marshall is a true laugh riot that nails every aspect a modern comedy needs. It’s loaded with funny characters, the raunch factor is high, and the script never loses a sense for pacing. Aside from it following a rather formulaic romantic comedy line, this is one best comedies of the year.
Sadly, the film’s near greatness isn’t equal to its Blu-ray transfer. While not terrible, there’s little excuse as to why this transfer is so soft. There’s a distinct lack of detail, artifacts can be seen on multiple occasions, and scenes shot in darker areas are barely on the expected level of DVD. Sure, the color is outstanding and some of the shots of the Hawaiian coast are beautiful naturally, bad transfer or not. For a modern film, this is truly the low end of hi-def.
There is a chance Apatow wanted the film to look a bit soft. However, it doesn’t seem to enhance the film, or have a purpose. The softness doesn’t excuse the artifacting either. As such, the score stands in comparison to other modern films.
While the DTS-HD track isn’t spectacular, it does offer some nice ambience. The best moments stand as those on or near the water, with waves consistently filling the sound field. During heavier sessions such as the surfing lessons, the bass gets in on the act as well. The soundtrack nicely bleeds into the rear channels, and there’s some ambient chatter during dinner sequences. It’s hardly revolutionary, but it is effective to convey a surround presence.
The Blu-ray comes with both the rated and unrated editions of the film on the same disc, along with all features of the special edition DVD release. The unrated cut runs six minutes longer, further enhancing the humor and characters. The unrated version is also the only one with an overloaded commentary, complete with the director, cast, and crew.
The extras begin with a karaoke option, followed by 11 deleted scenes that run close to 20 minutes. There are three “o-ramas,” featuring various improv sequences. A great gag reel comes in around six minutes. An early table read features various cast members prior to filming. Two featurettes join 22 separate video diaries coming in at around 35 minutes.
Raw footage of the video chat sequences are priceless, and run for about seven minutes. Additional takes of Kristen Bell’s crime show are added in, and many of them could have easily made the film. U-Control follows Universal everywhere, and it’s as annoying as its ever been. Picture-in-picture is not what it’s cracked up to be, especially when you need to watch the full movie to access them. BD-Live features are included, but only go to the generic splash page.