Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Forgetting Sarah Marshall Movie Poster Image
Crass comedy has lots of sex, nudity, language.
  • R
  • 2008
  • 111 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 40 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Couples cheat on each other and cover up their misdeeds with lies. Still, friends back each other up and exes find a way to talk maturely about their failed relationships and what they appreciate about each other. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

No positive role models. 


A bar owner beats Peter up for trying to steal a picture -- he is later shown bruised and banged up. Two guys shove each other at the beach. 


Lots of jokes about sex; the first major scene involves repeated male full-frontal nudity, as well as naked backside shots. Topless photo of a lead female character. Main character is later shown having tons of one-night stands; naked breasts. Attempted oral sex. Simulated sex acts in various positions. Couples cuddle post-coitus under sheets. A man teaches another man -- who is inexperienced -- his sexual tricks by humping large chess pieces. A honeymooner laments his new bride's excessive sexual demands, complains about not being able to find part of a woman's anatomy. Casual sex, group sex, assorted sexual positions often discussed, often used as punchlines. Two couples in neighboring hotel rooms try to out-scream each other while having, or pretending to have, sex. 


Frequent profanity, as well as references to and euphemisms for sex and various sexual positions. "F--k" used a lot. "Motherf----r." "Bulls--t," "s--t," "d--k," "a--hole," "pr--k." Talk of casual sex or assorted sex acts often used as punchlines throughout the movie. 


Some hotel signage. Sean John, Sesame Street, Elmo, and Fraggle Rock are all name-checked. Logo for O'Neill surfing gear is prominently displayed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink alone, in bars, at dinner. Extreme drunkenness in some scenes. Beer, wine, cocktails. Some references to buying, selling, and smoking weed. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a 2008 Judd Apatow comedy in which Jason Segel plays a guy who has just been dumped and is trying to get over his ex. Segel is shown completely naked: It's brief, but we see his penis and buttocks. The movie derives much of its humor from showing or making reference to casual sex and various sex acts. In one montage, Segel's character has one-night stands with a variety of women, breasts shown. In another montage, two honeymooners are shown attempting sex in a variety of ways -- no nudity, but a lot of comical yelling and moaning. Casual sex, group sex, and masturbation are all referenced as one-liners. There's a topless picture of one of the lead female characters that is taped to a men's room wall in a bar; the lead character is shown beaten and bruised after fighting the bar owner after removing the picture from the wall. Attempted oral sex is shown and graphically discussed. Profanity is frequently used, including "f--k" and variations. Characters binge-drink -- beer, wine, cocktails -- and get extremely drunk, and make drug references. However, there's also a thoughtful message and reflection -- as comically exaggerated as it may be -- on the heartbreak, sadness, and difficulties everyone faces at some point after the end of a failed relationship, and how people find a way to try again. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byAmitApollo March 7, 2021

Incredible movie, great dialogue, deep characters

This move is absolutely hilarious. Most romcoms are trite, predictable and follow the most predictable tropes. This movie whilst contains the same elements from... Continue reading
Parent Written byApersonthatdoes... February 22, 2021


Violence 0/5
Sex 5/5
Language 5/5
Drink/Drugs/Smoking 4/5
Teen, 14 years old Written byelizab3th August 14, 2015

Pretty good

To be honest, I think some people think the movie is very inappropriate because of Jason Segel's full frontal scene at the beginning of the movie and they... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written by23553 July 7, 2011

Good for mature 13 year olds or over.

I'm 13 and really liked this. However, I'm sure that there are 13 year olds that wouldn't be ready to see this. There certainly was a fair amount... Continue reading

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?

  • How does the movie use various forms of exaggeration to heighten comedic moments? What are some other examples of movies that derive a lot of humor from exaggeration? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love to laugh

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate