Muppet Mayhem (Part 8): Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Some of you are probably exceptionally confused as to why Forgetting Sarah Marshall is part of Muppet Mayhem. Short answer, because I said so. Slightly longer answer, without this movie, we wouldn’t have the Muppets.

Also, it’s one of my favourite movies ever and I wanted to talk about it sooner or later.

Composer Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) was just dumped by his television star girlfriend, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars and the Assassin’s Creed games). After a stint of very awkward one-night stands (much to his step-brother Brian’s (Bill Hader) chagrin), he escapes to Hawaii for a vacation to get his mind off of her where he sees Sarah with the man she left him for, rock star and lead singer of Infant Sorrow, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). There he meets a number of… interesting… characters like Darald (Jack McBrayer, 30 Rock), a super religious man on his honeymoon; Dwayne (Da’Vone McDonald), a Muppet loving bartender from South Central who can name 200 different kinds of fish; Infant Sorrow fanboy, Matthew (Jonah Hill); Chuck (Paul Rudd), a pot-smoking, surf teacher with delusions of being deeper than he really is; and most importantly, Rachel Jansen (Mila Kunis), the woman who would help him get back to his life.

Peter hated working on Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime, the TV show that he composed the music for (it was also the show that Sarah starred in). His real passion was working on his Dracula musical, but Sarah never really supported him with it. When he met Rachel, he finally got the motivation to finish it and ended up turning it into a distinctly Muppet-looking-puppets-that-were-actually-made-by-the-Jim-Henson-Company filled, comedic version of the Dracula story, and that is precisely why this movie is part of Muppet Mayhem. The Dracula puppet musical is the best part of an already great movie and without that particular scene, we would not have the new Muppet movie.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is chock full of Muppet references besides the very obvious Dracula puppet musical. My personal favourite is when Peter is sadly and drunkenly playing the Muppet Show theme on the piano, as that scene actually really made me want to learn how to play the piano. There are also name drops to various different Jim Henson characters and properties.

Besides the references to the Muppets, the film is exceptionally funny, but in a much more subtle way than say Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgundy (which I consider to be the best comedy of the 2000’s). It’s funny because it’s actually how people talk rather than being funny for the sheer absurdity of it or the overblown personalities. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is great because it is firmly grounded in reality and it has numerous very distinctive characters without them being too big (besides Aldous Snow, but he is supposed to be a self-absorbed and delusional rock star). It’s also one of the anomalies known as a funny romantic comedy. Usually, romantic comedies are interminable schlock-fests that follow a very specific formula and never quite reach either of the parts of it’s name, they are usually never actually romantic and rarely funny besides the occasional funny joke. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and the other films cut from the same cloth like the 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Shaun of the Dead, and I Love You Man actually work as both general comedies and as romantic comedies, and are genuinely good at being both.

The various different characters are played perfectly by their actors. Jason Segel’s Peter is the everyman, the man everyone is supposed to get behind, but that’s not to say that he’s bland. He’s a very soft spoken and charming person who, through Segel’s performance, really makes you feel like he’s going through a really hard break-up. Kristen Bell is able to show a similar level of brokenness, but from a different event, but her character is immensely less likable, though that is more because she is supposed to be a complete bitch through a large part of the film. Mila Kunis has this odd quality in the movie of being the super-nice, girl-next-door type of character, but can also balance it with her inherent sexiness surprisingly well.

The seemingly endlessly talented Jason Segel (seriously, he wrote, starred in, and composed the music) and Lyle Workman did the music for the film. The soundtrack is fantastic and features various songs from different artists, but also some original songs for Infant Sorrow and the Dracula musical. The Infant Sorrow songs perfectly mirror Aldous Snow’s personality and character perfectly, but that being said, the songs are genuinely good rock songs. They have solid guitar and bass and good lyrics (despite the inherent silliness of singing a song about being inside someone).

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a great movie. It’s funny, emotional, heart-felt, and a  genuinely good story about love and loss along with realizing what love really is. Even without the ties to the Muppets, I would love this movie. It’s really just icing on the cake that there happen to be puppets in it. This is actually my go-to feel better movie, so whenever I’m having a crappy day, I know that I can just pop in my copy of the movie and Peter Bretter will help me through whatever problem I’m having.

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