Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

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

Later 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 in this movie.

Tropes used in Forgetting Sarah Marshall include:
  • Affectionate Parody: Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime is clearly a parody of CSI, using the same naming convention. Later on, a characters asks Jason Segal's character if he works on Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime (sounding enthusiastic) or Crime Scene: Phoenix (sounding mildly depressed), clearly a parody of the 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.
  • Aloha Hawaii
  • Anti-Love Song: Peter sings one to himself.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Breakout Character: Aldous Snow was so popular, that Stoller made the spin-off film Get Him to The Greek about him.
  • Break Up to Make Up: Not initially, but Peter does eventually go in this direction.
  • 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.


Aldous: I would rather have my testicles spread out like a wafer and then have them covered in a layer of honey and then have wasps come and sting me and then have them covered in another layer of vinegar and then have it worn as a swimming cap by a Nazi. I'd rather have that than spend another second with her.

  • Male Frontal Nudity: Peter, used for laughs.
    • Doubles as a Meaningful Name, since Peter is a euphemism for "penis". Though it is far less commonly used than Dick.
    • 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
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Rachel.
  • The Modest Orgasm: One of the women Peter sleeps with.

Woman: [Dead monotone] Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. I just came. Oh. Oh. Oh.

  • Modesty Bedsheet: Used several times.
  • 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.
  • Old Shame: Jason Segel revealed in interviews that the Dracula puppet musical his character is writing in Forgetting Sarah Marshall is, in fact, based on a real Dracula musical which he began writing in his youth, and the song he sings in the karaoke bar is a real song from that musical. He claims to have played a demo tape for Judd Apatow, whose only response was "You can never let anyone hear this tape." Listen for yourselves. The anecdote starts at 13:30.
  • 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" 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.
  • 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."
  • Right Through His Pants: Inverted, where there is more male nudity than female, and the full-frontal male nudity starts in the first 10 minutes of the movie.
  • 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, much to Aldous's annoyance.
  • 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.
    • Well he doesn't stay with Sarah, either
  • Sex for Solace: Peter has a string of emotionless one night stands after he is dumped by Sarah, his doctor explains that he needs to get past Sarah and this is the perfect way to do so.
    • It's not his doctor. The guy's a pediatrician.
  • Shoot the Money: Averted. Shot on location in Hawaii and showed almost none of it. According to Russel Brand's later live comedy special, they shot a lot of outdoor sports scenes on beautiful beaches with him that were cut because he absolutely fails at surfing and horseback riding.
  • Shout-Out: Peter sings a very flubbed version of The Muppet Show theme song.
  • Spin-Off: 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
  • Stylistic Suck: Sarah's TV show Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime.
  • Surfer Dude: Peter gets lessons.
  • The Unfair Sex: Averted; Sarah's cheating on Peter is portayed negatively.
  • Verbing Nouny: The title.
  • Vampire Musicals: Peter has made a Dracula musical with puppets.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Crime Scene: Scene Of The Crime
  • When Life Gives You Lemons:

Surfing Instructor: When life gives you lemons, just say "Fuck the lemons" and bail.