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THE SCREENING ROOM | The not-so-forgettable Sarah Marshall and a teenager's paradise
“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” a thing to remember
Chalk one more up in Judd Apatow’s win column. The guy is a juggernaut of comedic success.
“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” the newest in a slew of big screen hits straight out of Apatown, is a hilarious and heartfelt movie with all the goofy gleam genre fans have come to love.
Written by and starring Jason Segel (“Knocked Up,” CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother), “Sarah” follows down-and-out, hangdog Peter (Segel), a composer for the CSI-like TV drama “Crime Scene,” of which girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell, “Veronica Mars”) is the star. But after Sarah dumps Peter — in an uproariously funny scene in which Peter is stark naked and in full, hapless view — the musician pendulums into a depressive craze, alternating between eating Fruit Loops in front of the tube and inviting strange women into his bed.
After his attempts to heal his broken heart prove futile, the lumbering, weepy Peter goes on a Hawaiian getaway, only to find Sarah is staying at the same resort as he — with her new boyfriend in tow.
Sarah’s flame is famous rocker Aldous Snow, (played by Brit comic Russell Brand, who’s devil-may-care persona is priceless) who at one point responds to a request by a doting hotel waiter (Jonah Hill), regarding if he listened to his demo CD, by saying “I was going to ... but then I just carried on living my life.”
Stuffed with Apatow’s sidesplitting regulars like Hill, Bill Hader and a wackily dazed Paul Rudd, as well as “30 Rock’s” Jack McBrayer in an ever-hilarious quest to fulfill his wife’s honeymoon enjoyment, the film is one with
the perfect balance of the funny and the down-to-earth.
Lucky for Peter, his ruined vacation is brightened by delightful hotel clerk Rachel (Mila Kunis, “That 70s Show”), who’s plucky and ungraceful yet sweet and insightful approach make the pair a perfect match. Turns out, Rachel is a little heartbroken herself, and she and Peter encourage one another to start fresh without missing a raunchy, jocose beat.
Segel, who starts the movie with a pectoral dance in the mirror and then gives a grand, laugh-out-loud performance of his “Dracula” puppet rock opera in full Transylvanian accent, wrote an illegally funny and completely lovable script. Bell and Kunis should both be given props as well for giving their characters impeccable nuance and honesty.
Directed by Nicholas Stoller (writer for Apatow’s “Undeclared”) and produced by the comic juggernaut himself, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” makes a big splash in an already crowded pool, and will be a hard standard to meet for the rest of the summer’s screwball gut busters.
“The Forbidden Kingdom” a teen paradise
A magical tale that’s a little more “bedtime story” than it is hardcore martial arts mania, “The Forbidden Kingdom” combines the legendary forces of Jet Li and Jackie Chan in a teen-friendly fight flick — afterschool special-style.
Written by John Fusco (“Hidalgo”) and directed by Rob Minkoff (“Stuart Little”), the film follows Jason (Michael Angarano, “Sky High”), a martial arts-obsessed loner who’s run-in with a gang of thieves sends him on a journey to right the wrong against burglarized pawn-shop owner Hop (Chan, in a turn reminiscent of Billy Crystal’s Miracle Max). Transported through time and space, Jason finds himself in an unknown world, where great adventure and an intoxicated new friend lie before him.
Drunken Lu Yan (also Chan) takes Jason under his booze-soaked wing, and with a little help from the Silent Monk (Li) and the hauntingly beautiful Golden Sparrow, who refers to herself in the third person, they set off on their quest to free the imprisoned Monkey King (also Li).
The movie tries to balance a host of subplots and mini dramas and winds up lagging in pace. But while some of the humor seems cheap — perhaps girded for all ages - at other times you can’t help but laugh at the heart behind it. Angarano’s acting is surprisingly on-mark, and he lends the film a natural feel.
As the evil Jade Warlord says to the Monkey King, “martial arts is based on deception.” In this case, fight scenes with the aging Chan and Li are at times as realistic as “Space Jam,” while at other times the action will keep lovers of the genre jockeying for a better seat.
Jason & Co. must travel to Five Elements Mountain, a Hogwarts-on-steroids fort where the Monkey King awaits freedom and the ability to rid the realm of the dreaded Jade warriors. Shenanigans plague their path as wondrous special effects display the fantastical world.
Chan and Li’s match-up hits an endearingly comical note, and Jason turns out to be a bit like Dorothy in Oz. His adventure — and the mismatch of characters he meets throughout it — are perfect for kids, or just the kid inside you. WU