Marshall, Forgetting Sarah

I’d been looking forward to seeing Forgetting Sarah Marshall, since I’m a fan of “How I Met Your Mother,” and Knocked Up was one of my favorite movies of last year. I wasn’t disappointed; the movie’s hilarious, and I’d recommend it to just about anybody.

Anybody who’s not in my immediate family, at least, since the movie continues the trend of Judd Apatow-produced raunchy romantic comedies. This one is the most bipolar of the ones I’ve seen — the plot is about as straightforward as a romantic comedy gets, but the scenes and language are about as explicit as an R rating will allow.

Everything I’d read and heard about the movie makes a big deal about the scene at the beginning where Jason Segel appears naked; after seeing the movie, you’ve got to wonder what all the fuss is about. The camera keeps cutting away quickly, not for artistic effect but because there’s only so much they’re allowed to show, and the scene on the whole feels oddly truncated, like you get the idea of how awkward and pathetic it was supposed to be, but it doesn’t carry through. Besides, every major character appears naked — you don’t see as much, but everybody’s got a scene or two having sex with somebody else, in all kinds of positions, filmed from all kinds of different angles.

But the movie’s goofy, oddly romantic, mostly good-natured, and overall, sweet. It doesn’t even have the edge that Knocked Up has; it’s got a simpler, be-comfortable-with-yourself-and-you’ll-find-happiness mentality. You have to like Segel’s character to like the movie, but it’s not that difficult. He’s not just one of the crass, horny losers of Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin or worse, the execrable Superbad; he’s a big, goofy, earnest and kind-hearted guy disguised as one of those losers.

It struck me as a lot more daring and exposed to put on a rock opera about Dracula performed by puppets, than it was to appear on screen naked and sobbing. Ultimately he just comes across as a guy who’s comfortable with himself — laugh at him if you want to, but more likely than not, he’s in on on the joke.