A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this comedy -- which was produced by Knocked Up director Judd Apatow -- is actually a lot less crass than the other hit movies he's worked on ... despite the fact that it features full-frontal male nudity right off the bat. In fact, it's downright warm-and-fuzzy in parts, revealing the heartache of breakups and the complexities of relationships. All of that said, it can't avoid its Apatowian roots altogether; there's plenty of salty language (from "f--k" to "b-tch"), sexual content, social drinking, and references to drug use.
What's the story?
When his TV actress girlfriend, the titular Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), calls to say she's arrived home early from a trip and is coming over, Peter (Jason Segel) hustles to get his apartment cleaned and strips naked, hoping for an action-packed homecoming. Instead, she dumps him (while he's still naked), sending him into paroxysms of grief. To forget her, he heads to Hawaii -- but, as luck would have it, she's vacationing there, too, with her new beau, rocker Aldous Snow (British comic Russell Brand). In no short order, Peter careens from pining for Sarah to hooking up with hotel clerk Rachel (Mila Kunis). Forgetting Sarah Marshall isn't really all that difficult -- or is it?
Is it any good?
From the movie's skin-baring setup to its end credits, you can't help but root for musician Peter. He's wasted his talents scoring Sarah's stereotypical crime show, instead of working on the vampire puppet opera that showcases his quirky sense of humor. Segel, who wrote the script, is as appealing here as he is on his own TV show, How I Met Your Mother. He has an ear for dialogue and manages to convey the complexity of relationships. And he's supported by a winning cast (his chemistry with Kunis is particularly fantastic) -- the most memorable are Brand, who's simply perfect as Snow, and Paul Rudd, who plays a surfing guru who's taken one toke too many.
But no matter how much you root for Peter, something's missing from this Judd Apatow-produced film when it comes to genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Chuckles, yes, but belly laughs? Not so much. That's because the scenes feel curiously un-punchy; it's as if we've heard these jokes before. Even the much-talked-about naked scene is a letdown (no lewd pun intended). It's just not as funny as it could be. That may be because director Nicholas Stoller allows the movie to meander from one mishap to the next without differentiating peaks from valleys.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the filmmakers deal with the fine line between being crude and being funny. Which side do they fall on more often? Who decides where that line falls to begin with? Families can also discuss why breakups are popular fodder for movies. Where's the humor in the end of a relationship? Why do you think Sarah breaks up with Peter to begin with? Was his reaction surprising or understandable?
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