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This week:
Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Filthy says:
"Funny in a painful kinda way."

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a pretty terrible name for a movie. Few good movies have a gerund or dangling participle in the title. I can't remember which this is, and I don't really care. That won't stop people who do know from e-mailing me. Apparently, the Kinko's or Barnes & Noble they work at don't keep them busy enough.

I digress. The point I started out making is that gerund movies are generally too fucking full of themselves. Forgetting Sarah Marshall isn't. Actually, it's nearly the opposite. Jason Segel wrote and stars in it. He's part of Judd Apatow's stable of friends and colleagues and played Nick Andopolis, a gangly, stoned-out, naive and overly romantic dope on the old NBC show Freaks and Geeks. That show is easily among my all-time favorites, right up there with SCTV, Mr. Show and Cinemax's Hotel Erotica. On Freaks and Geeks, Segel's character was so vulnerable and raw that he constantly made me wince at the pain from his embarrassing displays of affection and real feelings. That's just something nobody should ever, ever express in high school. Telling people how you really feel is like cutting open your chest and inviting assholes to poke your heart with sharp sticks.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a continuation of that lovelorn character. Segel plays a dope, now in his 20s, who believes in true love and takes it hard when his TV star girlfriend (Kristen Bell) dumps him while he stands (literally and figuratively) naked in his living room. Overwhelmed by depression and obsession, Segel escapes to Hawaii. Except, he chooses the resort that Bell talked about, and has also headed to with her new boyfriend, a coolly oblivious English pop star (Russell Brand).

The plot from there moves along with standard romantic comedy plot points. There is another, even hotter, girl in Hawaii (Mila Kunis) who takes a sympathetic shine to Segel. Bell realizes that the shiny bauble of a sexy pop star loses its luster over time, and that a decent, sincere and monogamous guy like Segel is what she really needs. It's too late, of course, because Segel discovered that he never needed Bell anyway. There are mishaps and misunderstandings along the way, of course, but nothing significantly elevated over sitcom crap. Even the comedic side characters like Paul Rudd as a clueless surf instructor and Jonah Hill as an aspiring musician are largely wasted.

The outcome is about as predictable as the outcome of a Harlem Globetrottters game. You can pretty much guess who Segel ends up with the moment he meets the hot hotel desk clerk in Hawaii. That is in direct contrast to when I meet a hot hotel desk clerk. In his case, she travels across the sea to reunite with him after realizing she loves him. In my case, it ends with me slamming my head into a concrete column in a parking garage while she drives away with her boyfriend. I suppose Segel's version makes for a better movie. Mine makes for a hell of an emergency room visit, though.

A few elements elevate Forgetting Sarah Marshall out of the usual pile of romantic comedy crap. That is, the crap pile that so many women seem to happily feast from, so long as the girl ends up with the "good" guy, and so many dickless men go to with their women. The first element is that in this case, the guy is the vulnerable dupe who gets knocked around, but whose goodness wins in the end. Usually, the woman is the victim because the Hollywood grassfuckers are too afraid to show a woman have 1) a personality, 2) be anything but a victim.

Second is that a hell of a lot of the movie feels like it is real life transcribed to the screen. I can relate to Segel's obsession, and I think most guys can. We just don't talk about it much. Well, most guys don't. I talk about it all the fucking time. Every guy has a girl in his life that he's gotten so twisted and knotted over that he can't even remember why he liked her. Everyone has someone they would have dropped everything and moved to China with, even though they knew it was a really bad idea and the relationship was destined for sure and violent failure. I knew a girl my friends nicknamed "Punishment". It wasn't because she punished me, but because she was my way of punishing myself. Holy shit was I sweet on her. She was never terribly into me, but we did go out and I was as soft and doughy as some Tollhouse batter, but with fewer chocolate chips. I went gooey and undemanding, trying to become as bland and pliable as possible just to stay in her sphere. I was so afraid of rejection that I just bent and bent for her. When she finally got bored with me, I collected pictures of her, connected with mutual friends, kept tabs on her sex life and prayed for some miracle, like a coconut to her head, that would make her finally want me, and give me my dick back so I could tell her how badly I wanted to rub my dick on her tits and watch her play with herself. Never happened, and she never knew how much pain I was in. If she did, she probably would have been even more creeped out than she was when my roommate--drunk--ran into her and told her I had a wall of photos of her at the apartment. That incident pretty much ended my hopes of every marrying her and living miserably as her timid and kowtowing husband. After that I just prayed I didn't run into her again so as not to see firsthand how creepy she thought I was.

I digress again. This time my point is that Segel's reactions and actions feel real. He acts like a dope and puts himself out there because of an irrational infatuation for someone above his station in life. It's a series of emotions I know well, and that should be shown more in movies. It makes guys like me feel like we're part of an army, not loners.

I think best of all about Forgetting Sarah Marshall is that Segel is never more than a moderately-talented everyman. His dream is to quit his job writing background music for TV dramas and produce a puppet vampire musical. It's a stupid idea, but it's his, and there's nobility in his seeing it through to completion. Nobody in the movie pretends it's great. And nobody pretends it's brilliant in a campy way. I respect anybody for pursuing their goal, so long as nobody gets hurt and it doesn't limit the availability of porn. Segel pulls himself out of his mess by focusing on his dreams

More movies should be about pursuing modest goals. Of course, it would be nice if we all got Mila Kunis as the prize for being decent, too. But, as decent as Segel is, he's still in a Hollywood movie, where ugly good guys get hot chicks. Three Fingers for Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Ruthe Stein of the San Francisco Chronicle

Nims' Island is "A combination of Robinson Crusoe and Home Alone... It's the best I've seen this year."

Filthy's Reading
Frank Portman - King Dork

Listening to
Hot Snakes - Audit in Progress


Theres Something About Mary