Sex, Male Nudity, and Raunchy Humor - Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Nov 23, 2009
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Funny, entertaining movie with good cast.

Cons:Offensive at times.  Some humor doesn't work.

The Bottom Line: Forgetting Sarah Marshall ends up being entertaining even though it has some issues.  Fans of the cast might find something to like.


I heard about Forgetting Sarah Marshall when it came out in 2008.  At that time, I wasn't interested in seeing the movie.  I came across the movie on HBO and ended up enjoying it overall.  I have watched part of the movie a few times and I just watched it again.

Composer Peter Bretter has been dating actress Sarah Marshall for several years.  She stars on a television show and Peter writes the music for the show.  One day Peter is shocked and devastated when Sarah dumps him.  He struggles with the end of the relationship, having a string of one night stands before he decides to go on vacation in Hawaii at a resort that Sarah has mentioned.

Things aren't looking good when Peter arrives at the resort and finds out that Sarah is there with Aldous Snow, a rock star from England.  Peter spends some time wallowing in his misery.  He starts to spend time with Rachel, a woman who works at the resort, and the two of them have a lot of fun together.  At the same time, Sarah's relationship with Aldous is showing signs of trouble.

Within the first few minutes of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Peter and Sarah are introduced and Sarah dumps him.  The break up is a bit unpleasant, though the fact that Peter is naked during it makes it more original and even a bit entertaining.  I knew long before I saw the movie that Peter was going to be naked.  I really didn't need to see that much of Peter, though it does sort of work for the movie in a weird way.  The majority of the movie is focused on how Peter attempts to deal with the end of the relationship.  Some of what he does is a little extreme while still seeming mostly realistic.  The plot isn't that complicated, so it might disappoint some viewers.  There are a few surprises here and there even though several things are more predictable.  A few scenes do move slower before the pace picks up after the setting moves to Hawaii.  I do think the plot is interesting enough and it makes an entertaining movie.

There are several sexual situations, discussions, and scenes throughout Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  When Peter is naked while being dumped, he is shown fully naked from the front and everything is visible.  That shot doesn't last long, but it is clear what is being shown and that might be enough to bother some viewers.  He does briefly turn up naked again later in the movie.  After the break up and before he decides to go to Hawaii, Peter indulges in a lot of meaningless sex with random women.  Once he is in Hawaii, he slowly starts to recover while spending time with Rachel.  They do develop a relationship that involves sex.  The sex scenes aren't that long and don't show a lot, but it is clear what is going on.  Sarah and Aldous are shown in a short sex scene that makes it clear that they are a bit more adventurous in bed.  Skin is shown during those scenes without any actual nudity being included.  Rachel and Sarah aren't topless during their sex scenes, though there is a picture of Rachel that is seen briefly.  I've read that the picture isn't really the actress.  Several characters swear throughout the movie, and that includes multiple uses of the word that rhymes with luck.  The movie deserves the R rating and isn't one that is child friendly.

I have heard Forgetting Sarah Marshall described as a romantic comedy.  The movie really isn't that romantic overall though there are one or two more romantic moments in the movie.  I do think there is a decent amount of humor in the movie.  Most of the humor is somehow connected to how Peter is attempting to deal with being dumped.  Some of what is done to add humor is more crude or raunchy and could offend some viewers.  I do think the humor works for the most part, though a few things that I think were supposed to be funny weren't.  

Peter composes the music for the television show that Sarah stars in.  He is briefly shown trying to work after the break up.  During one of his bouts of sadness, he sings the theme song to The Muppet Show.  I really liked that since I love that show and get really happy to see or hear references to the Muppets.  Peter has also had the idea of writing a musical about Dracula to be performed with puppets, something that I find really cool.  That is probably because of my love for all things Muppet.  Some of the songs that Peter wrote for the musical are heard during the movie and I did like them.  Aldous is also a musician, though he is much more famous and successful as a member of a popular band.  Part of one of his songs is heard as well and it is very sexually suggestive.  

Peter is the main character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and most of what goes on in the movie revolves around him in some way.  He isn't that happy with his job, but he doesn't do anything to change things.  He's a bit of a slob and he has some issues dealing with things at times.  He doesn't always make the best decisions.  Jason Segal, who also wrote the script, does really well with the part.  He is probably most known for playing Marshall on How I Met Your Mother.  From what I have read, several things from the movie are based on things that really happened to him, including being naked during a break up. Segal has also worked on a Dracula musical with puppets.

Sarah is one of the stars of Crime Scene, a television show that seems to be a lot like CSI.  She dumps Peter and then is quickly off to Hawaii with another guy.  Once she sees Peter again, she starts to have doubts about her decisions.  Sarah isn't a completely horrible person, but she isn't that nice either.  Kristen Bell does well with the part.  Aldous Snow is a member of a well known band.  He seems a bit loopy at times even though he isn't using drugs or drinking.  He does tend to make sexual remarks.  Russell Brand does fine with the part.

Rachel works at the resort where Peter, Sarah, and Aldous are staying.  Rachel does a few nice things for Peter.  She has a few lingering issues with a former boyfriend to deal with.  Not a lot is shared about her, but she seems to be a nice enough character.  Mila Kunis does well with the part.  Matthew is another employee at the resort who is a bit of an obsessive fan of Aldous.  Matthew also makes a lot of cracks about Peter being there alone.  I think he was supposed to be funny, but I didn't think he was.  Jonah Hill isn't anything special in the part.  Some of the other employees and guests, like a couple on their honeymoon having sex issues, turn up a few times without being that developed.

Main Cast

Kristen Bell - Sarah Marshall
Russell Brand - Aldous Snow
Jonah Hill - Matthew
Mila Kunis - Rachel Jansen
Jason Segal - Peter Bretter

Nicholas Stoller - Director

I have only seen Forgetting Sarah Marshall on HBO.  There are a few different DVD releases, including an unrated version.  I have no idea what sort of extras are included on the DVDs.  

The humor doesn't always work and certain things are rather raunchy and crude, but Forgetting Sarah Marshall is more entertaining than I thought it would be.  This isn't a movie for everyone.


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