Tuesday, March 17, 2009

FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (now playing at home where your spouse is screaming at you--pretend you can't hear.)

Struggling musician Peter, (Jason Segel) who's writing a Dracula musical for puppets, gets dumped by his TV star girlfriend, Sarah (Kristen Bell) as he stands there naked and just out of the shower (unfortunate because, in my experience, if at least one of you is naked, things are usually going pretty well) in this raunchy comedy that will have you--if not laughing--at least smirking most of the way through.

Trying to get Sarah off his mind, Peter beds down with a bevy of acceptably attractive substitutes, but to no avail. He follows Sarah and her new rock star beau, Aldous Snow (played by Russell Brand as an over-the-top parody of your typical chemically addled prima donna rocker) to Hawaii. Peter drinks, follows Sarah around, and feels crappy until he hooks up with the exotic looking Rachel (Mila Kunas) the one woman who has the potential to turn him around.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the kind of flick where the actors and crew must have been breaking up and laughing their asses off after each take, and the gag reel that's one of the extras on the DVD is at least as much fun as the film itself. The laughs here aren't the gross-out kind of belly laughs, as in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle-- they're actually a bit more subtle and, dare we say, on a higher intelluctual plane. Still, there are plenty of F-bombs being tossed around, and there's some full frontal nudity...but it's MALE nudity, so out of disappointment I naturally had to deduct a few points for that.


THE NOTEBOOK (playing at home where you're ignoring the garbage that's up to the ceiling so you can watch this movie)

James Garner and Gena Rowlands portray the older couple we meet in the beginning for whom the story he reads to her from his notebook--shown in flashbacks to the forties--has some special meaning.

Noah (Ryan Gosling) is a cheeky teenager who courts the stunning Allie (Rachel McAdams) in a way that would be considered stalking by today's standards, but in pre-war America was thought of as the admirable trait of PERSERVERANCE. It's the oft-told poor boy-rich girl tale, and Allie's mom--the classic Mrs. Richbitch that we love to hate--does mean things to try to keep them apart.

The young lovers are separated, and when the war breaks out Allie falls for a wounded enlisted man she meets at the hospital where she's volunteering. He's good looking and, oh yeah, RICH-which makes Allie's material-mom jump for joy. But even as she accepts her new guy's proposal of marriage, Allie thinks fondly of Noah and wonders if she's doing the right thing. Will she take the money and run, or will first love conquer all? We don't find out until right near the end, and that keeps things interesting throughout.

An authentic sense of place--or in this case, era--scores points with me, and The Notebook captures the forties to a T, both visually and musically. From the novel by Nicholas Sparks, the movie contains a surprisingly passionate love scene for a PG-13 rated film (another plus).

However, there are several minutes of surperfluous and anti-climactic stuff at the end, which detracts from what could have been a perfectly poignant ending. Better to leave 'em at the most touching moment and let the audience infer the rest.