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Film / Forgetting Sarah Marshall

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a 2008 Romantic Comedy written by (and starring) Jason Segel, co-produced by Judd Apatow, and directed by Nicholas Stoller.

Segel is Peter Bretter, a musician who has been dumped by the titular Ms. Marshall (Kristen Bell), his TV star girlfriend. After a string of one-night stands, Peter decided to go on vacation to Hawaii to forget, erm, well, you know. Unfortunately for Peter—but fortunately for us the viewers—Sarah is staying at the same resort with her new flame, British Rock Star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Peter makes new friends, and starts to date Rachel (Mila Kunis), a receptionist at the resort. Schadenfreude happens. Hilarity Ensues.

Two years later it spawned a Spin-Off, Get Him to the Greek, featuring Brand reprising his Aldous Snow character from this movie alongside Jonah Hill, who, rather confusingly, does not reprise his role from this movie.

Provides examples of:

  • Affectionate Parody: Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime is clearly a parody of CSI, using the same naming convention. Later on, a characters asks Peter if he works on Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime (sounding enthusiastic) or Crime Scene: Phoenix (sounding mildly depressed), clearly a parody of the fact that there are multiple spinoffs in the CSI franchise and the general consensus by viewers and critics that the original is the superior crime drama program, whereas the spinoffs (named after the cities they are set in) are considered kitschy and tacky.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Aldous Snow does quite well with the ladies, despite being pretty bad boyfriend material, which is lampshaded by Peter.
  • Alliterative Name: Peter's step-brother, Brian Bretter.
  • All Women Are Lustful: Wyoma, much to Darald's fear of not living up to her standards. Sarah has traits of this too.
  • Anti-Love Song: Peter sings one to himself.
  • As Himself: Both William Baldwin and Jason Bateman made a cameo as Sarah's co-leads.
  • Author Appeal: Jason Segal plays the theme song to The Muppet Show, and his character puts on a Muppets-style adaptation of Dracula. Segal would later reveal himself to be such a big Muppets fan that he wrote and starred in The Muppets (2011).
  • Beta Couple: Darald and Wyoma, Brian and Liz.
  • Betty and Veronica: Sarah (Archie) between Peter (Betty) and Aldous (Veronica). Peter (Archie) between Rachel (Betty) and Sarah (Veronica).
  • Big "NO!": Done with absolute hilarity.
  • Birds of a Feather: Peter and Rachel, see Broken Bird.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The "friendly" waiter who served Peter his breakfast turns out to be The Dragon of Rachel's Jerkass ex-boyfriend.
  • Blond, Brunette, Redhead: Sarah is the blond, Rachel is the brunette, and Wyoma is the redhead.
  • Blood from the Mouth: When Peter finally completes his Dracula-puppet rock opera, the titular puppet dies at the end, complete with red silk blood from the mouth.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: As a boyfriend, Peter was kind of a loser Manchild, but he was also honest and appreciative of Sarah. The film shows both why Sarah was justified in breaking up with him and also why she did him wrong by cheating and then dumping him.
  • Bourgeois Bohemian: Sarah basically calls Aldous one during their breakup fight, using his tattoos particularly to make her point.
    Sarah: That is Buddhist, that is Nordic, that is Hindu, that's just gibberish. Those are completely conflicting ideologies, and that does not make you a 'citizen of the world', it makes you full of shit!
  • Breakout Character: Aldous Snow was so popular that Stoller made the spin-off film Get Him to the Greek about him.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: "Oh! I'm Aldous Snow! Boo-shit boo-shit boo-shit boo-shit!"
    • Also, Matthew, when giving Aldous his demo tape:
      Matthew: "OH! I saw that guy! He was my waiter and I totally dismissed him like everybody else does... in his life. And I totally, she was wrong cuz he's a major, major, major influence on me now... and I feel terrible!"
      Aldous: That stupid English voice, was that me?
      Matthew: Unfortunately, yes.
    • Also Paul Rudd's Chuck/Kunu:
      Chuck: You sound like you're from London!!
  • British Rockstar: Aldous is a famous rock star from Great Britain.
  • Broken Bird: Rachel and Peter bond over shared bad breakup experiences they're both still reeling from.
  • Butt-Monkey: Peter spends the first half of the movie as this. Many gags centre on how miserable he is after getting dumped and seeing his ex-girlfriend so happy with a new man.
  • Calling Your Orgasms: One of Peter's one-night stands. Later played with, as Peter calls Rachel's, screaming, "She's having an orgasm!", to Sarah as part of an odd sex competition.
  • The Cameo: William Baldwin and Jason Bateman as themselves.
  • Captain Ersatz: Billy Baldwin's "Scene of the Crime" character is pretty clearly a parody of and/or homage to Horatio Caine from CSI: Miami, as evidenced by his Character Tic of fiddling with his sunglasses when delivering deadpan one-liners. Jason Bateman plays another one in Animal Instincts, complete with trademark Cool Shades.
  • Character Development: Peter's is Exactly What It Says on the Tin as well as overcoming creative block and general laziness.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Kunu, the addled surf instructor, is prone to non sequiturs and malapropisms and seems to miss the point of everything Peter says to him.
  • Creator Breakdown: Peter has a literal in-universe example after his break-up with Sarah.
  • Cringe Comedy: Peter gets humiliated a lot in R rated territory, most notably the breakup scene. There is also some less raunchy scenes that make the audience cringe like the scene where Rachel mistakes Peter's crying for a woman's.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Sarah stars on the TV show "Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime."
  • Despair Speech: Peter has a despair song.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Peter is introduced loafing around in his squalid apartment in spite of being the boyfriend of a beautiful actress.
    • Aldous Snow is introduced struggling to explain that his missing shoe doesn't look exactly like his remaining shoe while being thoroughly unthreatened by the presence of his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, establishing him as a little daffy and also extremely cool.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Most of them show this at times. Aldous despite his own promiscuity refuses to compete with Peter for Sarah's affections, believing they're still in love which causes them to break up. Sarah's is in her professional life with a refusal to get plastic surgery or do nude scenes to increase her profile. Rachel's is zero tolerance for cheating which she only forgives Peter for after a good length of time at the end.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: It's pretty clear that Chuck's colleagues don't think too highly of him, being a white guy who adopts Hawaiian culture as part of a mid-life crisis and smokes weed when he should be working.
  • Haunted Technology: Sarah was in a movie where cell phones kill their owners; Peter and Aldous mock this over a dinner. This is also an Actor Allusion to a previous role of Kristen Bell's.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Peter, apparently in ignorance. When Rachel tells him to change his shirt before their date, he's taken off guard.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: When the two couples try to outdo each other.
  • Intercourse with You: Aldous's song "Inside Of You".
  • Jerkass Ball: Peter loudly calling Sarah the "Goddamn devil" was a bit much right after he'd initially reciprocated having make-up sex with her and interrupting a wedding in progress by purposely yelling is the icing on the cake.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When it's learned that Sarah cheated on Peter for an entire year before dumping him, it makes the audience feel like she's the biggest bitch in the world. But when Peter confronts her about it and she starts listing the reasons why she cheated, you kinda have to admit that she makes some good points, though none of them excuse her cheating and lying.
  • Kavorka Man: Peter is never portrayed as particularly attractive, charismatic, or good with women, yet he dates two beautiful women and has a series of one-night-stands with other attractive women.
  • Large Ham: Brian in-universe to hilarious degrees when delivering the final line of the Dracula puppet musical.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Sarah, who cheated on Peter, eventually finds out that Aldous has been cheating on her.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: When Peter tries to have sex with Sarah.
  • Looks Like Jesus: Aldous, who fittingly helped Darald's sex problems by stating that "he has Christ between his thighs, but with a shorter beard!"
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Aldous will sleep with anyone and isn't shy about talking about it. Nonetheless, he's very kind and likeable.
  • Love Hurts: For everyone.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: After being dumped at the start of the film, Peter has a series of meaningless one night stands in an attempt to get over Sarah.
  • Loony Fan: Matthew, a waiter who is obsessed with Aldous's band, fawns over him to annoying degrees while he's staying at the resort, and then tries to get Aldous to listen to a demo he's made. When Aldous quietly snaps and dismisses him, there are two outcomes depending on the cut: he either appears to get the message and trudges off without a word or now tells Aldous he hates him and threatens to poison him.
  • Male Frontal Nudity:
    • Peter gets dumped after just getting out of the shower, with his flaccid penis out to hammer in the embarrassment. Then he tries to hug Sarah and only makes it worse.
    • May count as Book Ends. The first scene has him naked trying to get a hug from his (ex) girlfriend, and the last scene has him naked getting a kiss from his (different) girlfriend.
  • Manchild: Peter has no ambition and spends all his time away from Sarah loafing around his apartment in sweat pants, watching television, eating children's cereal, and making a mess.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Rachel, although she does have an arc, though muted, of her own independent of Peter.
  • Metaphorgotten:
    Chuck: I like red hair. I wonder if the carpet matches her pubes.
  • The Modest Orgasm: One of the women Peter sleeps with, who moans in a dead monotone and flatly states, "I just came."
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Used several times since both Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis refused to do nude scenes.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Crime Scene: Scene Of The Crime
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sarah goes through one of these after her break-up with Aldous. She realizes that Peter is actually a pretty great guy and she made a huge mistake by cheating on him and then dumping him.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Full frontal nudity from Jason Segel. Twice.
  • Nice Guy: Aldous, despite being a sex maniac who was sleeping with Sarah behind Peter's back (and with various other women behind Sarah's back...), is actually really friendly and cordial towards Peter, which only serves to piss him off more. Peter even admits that it's very hard to hate him.
  • No Antagonist: Pretty much everyone in the cast is guilty of some sort of major breach of trust against one another, but all show a good deal of humanity and redeeming qualities as well. The proceedings come off more as a tragedy than the "Sarah did bad thing, root for Peter" the beginning would have you expect.
  • One Head Taller: Peter (6'4"), Sarah Marshall (5'1"), Rachel (5'3"). Lampshaded in the beginning by a photographer who calls Peter "Jolly Green Giant" and "Mutombo" when telling him to get out of the shot.
  • Pet the Dog: Aldous is by no means a bad guy, but he does do something helpful in the movie when he assists the young newlywed with his apprehensions about sex, resolving a running gag that had been making Peter rather uncomfortable in the process.
  • Police Psychic: Parodied with the Show Within a Show Animal Instincts, in which Marshall plays an animal psychic working with the police department.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Fuckerrr!"
  • Protest Song: Aldous Snow and Infant Sorrow recorded a similarly satirical piece entitled We Gotta Do Something.
  • Quip to Black: Lampshaded / Parodied: "She's going to have a hard time reentering the pageant...without a face."
  • Really Gets Around: Aldous is proud of this reputation.
  • Right Through the Wall: The two couples end up with rooms next to each other. Peter and Rachel are intentionally loud to annoy Sarah. Sarah retaliates by faking an orgasm, much to Aldous's annoyance.
    Aldous: I mean, I've heard that women do fake orgasms, but I've never seen one. It really deeply upset me.
  • Romantic False Lead: Subverted. Aldous Snow is initially presented as the Romantic False Lead (and Peter thinks he is), but as Peter doesn't get back together with Sarah in the end (and stops trying about halfway through the movie), he's not.
  • Secondary Character Title: As the title suggests, Peter is the main character, not Sarah.
  • Second Love: Peter and Rachel to each other.
  • Sex for Solace: Peter has a string of emotionless one night stands after he is dumped by Sarah, his pediatrician explains that he needs to get past Sarah and this is the perfect way to do so.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Invoked. After Sarah breaks up with him, Peter is shown at his keyboard putting a score to an episode of Crime Scene: Scene Of The Crime. When it's announced that the Victim of the Week's penis was caught in an air conditioner, Peter sets it to the theme song from Seinfeld.
  • Shout-Out: Peter sings a very flubbed version of The Muppet Show theme song.
  • Spinoff: Get Him to the Greek, which focuses on Aldous Snow.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Matthew to Aldous. He's definitely a stalker and it's hinted that he's also attracted to him.
    • Hinted? When Aldous sings "Inside of You", Matthew adjusts his pants and says "It just went from 6 to midnight." Yeah.
  • The Stinger: It reveals that Sarah has a new show.
  • Stylistic Suck: Sarah's TV show Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime. Her new show at the end of the film, Animal Instincts, is even more ridiculous, with the premise being that Sarah plays a psychic detective who's able to read the minds of animals.
  • Supernatural Phone: Peter and Aldous mock the titular faux film star Marshall's having appeared in a film about a murderous cell phone, wondering why the phone could not be defeated by simply removing the battery.
  • Surfer Dude: Peter gets lessons.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "The hotel wanted to offer you some complimentary coconut cake. It's from the hotel; it's definitely not from me personally, so..."
  • Talking to Themself: Of a sort; Peter's "The Reason You Suck" Speech Anti-Love Song to himself eventually degenerates into a kind of weird back-and-forth self-bickering about whether he needs to see a psychiatrist or not between two different "personalities", one urging him to sort himself out and the other one yelling about how he hates psychiatrists.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Peter loves colorful cold sugar cereal. We see him eating giant bowls of it at a few points, and Sarah gifted him a reusable cereal container to keep it fresh. His obsession emphasizes him being a Manchild.
  • Two First Names: Sarah Marshall.
  • Verbing Nouny: The title.
  • Wham Line:
    Peter: Well, we've been together five years, so there you go.
    Aldous: Well, you got four on me, I guess.
  • When Life Gives You Lemons...:
    Chuck: When life gives you lemons, just say "Fuck the lemons" and bail.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Parodied in the scene where Peter wore the same pair of sweatpants for a week.


Video Example(s):


Sarah Marshall-Animal Instinct

Sarah Marshall plays an police officer/animal psychic.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / PolicePsychic

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