Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Forgetting Sarah Marshall Film Review

For my film review I chose to do a romantic comedy called “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”. The movie to me reflects a lot on how society expects a man to act in relationships and in public. The movie is basically about a break-up that Peter, the main character, was not expecting from him his very domineering girlfriend. Like a real person he is depressed and acts out his depression in a few ways, some ways being socially unacceptable for a man and some that are not socially acceptable as a man. There is a power struggle in the relationship that creates many thoughts (at least for me) on what roles people are expected to uphold in a relationship as well as what roles a man is suppose to have while not in a relationship.

I think the movie shows a lot of how society places men in the “Act-Like-a-Man Box”. Peter is expected, and even encouraged by friends, to have casual sex in order to help him get over the loss of his girlfriend. Yet when he lets his real feeling of sadness show, and cries publicly and speaks of the loss to show how he feels even his best friend in the movie chastises him and expects him to “be more manly” and move on with his life. And even though his friend is a married man, he acts to me in a way that describes somewhat of a “bro-mance” and helps his friend to meet random girls while out of the town. In rises a question of what exactly makes a good male friend in a male friendship role. Shouldn’t a true friend allow someone close to them to express their true emotions in order to feel better, rather than be closed off about how they really feel?

Other parts throughout this movie also show a power struggle in the man vs. woman role in the relationship. Peter, in the relationship, is for a lack of better words not manly at all and his girlfriend controls most of what they do. Others around him see this as an issue and Peter even shows himself to be somewhat de-masculinized by the way his relationship portrays as the “wimpy” one who is not in control of what goes on. His career as a musician is also brought up as not being what his girlfriend thinks it should be, she sees his passion as not worthy enough to be shown to others and discourages him to go forward with it. There is also a big difference in who is the main finance provider in the household before the break up, and that was also the woman. She sees herself as having more worth and value in the relationship because she is more successful then Peter.

Although this movie is very funny and I laugh through-out most of it, the movie does insult the idea of having a sensitive, emotional man as someone who should not be respected as much as someone who may be more in your face and less in touch with their feelings. By the end of the movie it does actually have a happy ending by bringing in another woman who does accept Peter for who he really is. But how often does this really happen in everyday life? Why does Peter constantly have people around him trying to persuade him to be more “like a man” and less in touch with his feelings and the way he expresses them? Even though the movie is a great comedy it shows how society expects certain things of men and how they act.

Word Count: 604

1 comment:

Patricia said...

I agree that "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" hardly provides a model for sensitive male behavior that others can readily accept. Peter is portrayed as an absolute wreck for the majority of the film, at times becoming really insufferable, but I think the film is trying to highlight that these are very human reactions to incredibly painful situations. As Sarah points out, he had "checked out" of their relationship months before the end, and I always found that detail very pertinent because it humanized Peter, who otherwise portrays himself as a martyred figure, forced into a state of unfounded loss. However, regardless of whether others find the way he expresses himself acceptable, especially in terms of his actions compromising his masculinity, he is undoubtably always the hero, though awkwardly, and I think that while it's in a very roundabout fashion, this does encourage less traditionally macho gender roles. A good example of this is how the casual sex you mentioned seems almost painful for him, a far cry from the ways in which such encounters would be portrayed in most films in this genre. I also think that the film acknowledges that his friends are pushing him into situations he isn't ready for, and portrays almost every other male character as entirely oblivious to what Peter needs emotionally, which makes sense because almost all characters Jason Segel has ever played seem to relate better with women anyway, and that is supposed to be half the charm.