Saturday, June 5, 2010

THE LACK OF FULL-FRONTAL MALE NUDITY MAY BE A PLUS, HOWEVER: As someone who enjoyed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I was looking forward to Get Him To The Greek. However, this winds up being more than a little misfire. The big problems with the film are two-fold.

First is the casting of Jonah Hill. Hill's a very funny guy, but the role, as scripted, is written as a somewhat uptight rock and roll snob who winds up letting loose. Hill is kind of the antithesis of that, maybe in part because of the baggage he carries from Superbad. He's not bad in the role, but I wonder if the film might have worked better with a dweebier leading man like a Michael Cera or Jay Baruchel.

Second, despite Katherine Heigl's "sexism" shout about Knocked Up, the best Apatovian films distinguish themselves with strong female characters. In particular, while it would have been easy for the title character of Forgetting Sarah Marshall (who makes a very brief appearance) to be a one-dimensional bitch, she winds up being fully formed. Elisabeth Moss seems to be nicely cast as Hill's girlfriend, a medical student who he never sees because of her schedule, but the role is so poorly developed that it can't work, and winds up calling for a naughtiness that she doesn't sell terribly well. Rose Byrne fares better as Jackie Q, Aldous' love interest, particularly by showing impressive singing chops, but the writing fails her, turning her into exactly the one-dimensional bitch that Sarah Marshall wasn't.

There's still a lot of funny stuff, particularly the songs, several of which are co-written by Jason Segel, who gets a "based on characters created by" and an associate producer credit, and a cameo from quite possibly the last journalist you'd expect to see cameoing in an Apatow film. It's also clear that there are probably a lot of very funny alternate takes, improvisations, and deleted material in the vault, as it's clear that the people involved had the time of their life making it. For that reason, wait for DVD.


  1. Meghan11:20 PM

    I thought Jonah Hill was going to do full frontal in this?

  2. I have no desire to see this movie.  I find that so many films like these are trying too hard. That and I can't stand Russel Brand.  He is one of the most unfunny of newbies that has come around in years. He's basically the British Jack Black without the extra 150 pounds, and that's not even a compliment.  I also find Jonah Hill such a chore to watch. He is becoming like Justin Long and type casting himself into specific roles. There may be a good actor in there somewhere, but he continues to do the same type of role over again and its just not interesting to me.

    As far as Apatow films go, if you go as far back as Freaks and Geeks, where his film relationships with many of the actors began (Jason Segel, James Franco, Seth Rogan) you will see that much of his early work was actually an interesting study on masculinity.  I'm leaving "Knocked Up" out on purpose, but if you look at films like "40 Year Old Virgin" and "Superbad" you see a different type of male protagonist than say the Brad Pitts, Orlando Blooms or Johnny Depps. Michael Cera in "Superbad" is a perfect example. To me Michael Cera is bascially this generation's Woody Allen if Woody Allen was ever a hot 20-ish year old with a Canadian accent. He has the nervous romantic guy down pat, and even though sometimes I think he's basiclly rehashing George Michael from Arrested Development, you can really see how different the male perspective is in early Judd Apatow films compared to the later ones and also in mainstream Hollywood.

    Its a pity that Apatow has kind of abandoned this type of story telling, as I think its a far cry from some of the overly one dimensional roles that actresses such as Katherine Heigl tend to play. And can I just say that being a Veronica Mars fan, I found Kristin Bell hilarious in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It was an interesting choice, and I thought she was really good at being the bitch even though I had to watch scenes with Russel Brand in them. Ah well.

  3. There's brief Jonah Hill-ass, and I suspect a full-frontal scene was shot, but got trimmed from the film.

  4. Goghaway11:57 AM

    The way Kirsten Bell's character was treated in Forgetting Sarah Marshall actually made me extremely uncomfortable. I can't really explain why without going into plot details, so spoilers below if you haven't seen the movie.

    I think what upset me was the fact that she only briefly became three-dimensional, and got a chance to explain her side of the story, only to be torn down. At the end all of sudden, she's considered "the bitch" again, and is discarded in a really cruel fashion- punished oestensibly for cheating on Segel's character in the past, and to clear the way for Segel to move on to the nice girl. But it seemed unnecessary after Segel and Bell's characters had come to an understanding of sorts earlier (which was really well-acted and written). I don't think it helped either that there were people behind me in the theater yelling, "YEAH!! @%& her!". I know that that's what these types movies do- there's the uptight, awful ex and the beautiful free-spirited woman that the hero has to choose between, and the former has to be the villain. But man, that one scene where she got to tell Jason Segel all the good reasons why she left him, and he actually listened to her, got my hopes up that they would actually part ways respectfully/amicably. It was a real letdown and even though I love Bell and Segel, I don't care to see the movie again. 

  5. bella wilfer3:41 PM

    I completely agree with Goghaway re: Sarah Marshall - I loved the scene you mention and was very disappointed when she then went back to being the villain rather than a more nuanced character.

    I really enjoyed Greek despite how much of a mess it was at times.  I thought Puffy was HYSTERICAL every time he showed up onscreen, loved seen Rose Byrne do comedy after 3 seasons of being so serious on Damages, and I think Russell Brand is a true movie star.  I find him charismatic and charming and would probably watch him read the phone book.  Am I the only one?

    Jonah Hill never worked for me and he didn't in this one either.  He and Cera seem to play the same role in every movie and I'm over it. 

  6. bella wilfer3:41 PM

    *seeing, obviously.  Shouldn't post these things so quickly!

  7. slongo9:15 AM

    bella- tee hee , so true. Greek can certainly be a real mess at times. Thank you for pointing out the subtly unintentional double entendre.
    Yes. I am intractably adolescent.

  8. bella wilfer1:25 PM


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