British rock star Aldous (Russell Brand, foreground) and Peter Bretter (Jason Segal, kneeling) compete for the same woman in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."
Local scenery and music figure prominently in new comedy flick "Forgetting Sarah Marshall"
"Forgetting Sarah Marshall"
Deciding how much to reveal of actor Jason Segal in the new comedy "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" required a fair amount of scientific analysis.
Anticipating a tryst rather than a breakup with his TV star girlfriend (Kristen Bell), Segal's character appears nude in the opening scenes. This caused great consternation among male test audience members, according to director Nicholas Stoller.
"The girls didn't care, but the guys got really mad and asked, 'Why was his (appendage) up there for, like, 20 minutes?'" Stoller said from his home in Los Angeles. In reality the entire full-frontal sequence lasts 2.5 seconds.
Kristin Bell, stars as the title character.
National media attention on this detail is just part of the tremendous buzz surrounding what's billed as "the world's first romantic disaster comedy." That's good news because Hawaii's scenery and music are featured prominently in the film, which is expected to make a major impact at the box office. In it, Segal's character takes an impulsive trip to Oahu's Turtle Bay Resort to recover from his girlfriend's departure, only to discover that she and her new boyfriend are staying there, too.
When Segal's script called for two-thirds of the film to be shot in Hawaii, the creative team never considered finding a substitute location.
"It's so gorgeous there; there's no reason to try to match it somewhere else," said Stoller. "What better place to play Hawaii than Hawaii?" Indeed, the setting so captivated him that he plans to watch for tropically themed projects or, as he jokingly suggested, just set everything in Hawaii.
"I'd gone to Hawaii on vacation many times and always thought it would be a great place to live, and it turned out it was."
In fact, several years ago Stoller proposed to his wife, fellow Harvard graduate and writer Francesca Delbanco, in Hawaii.
Rachel (Mila Kunis), is a free-spirited resort employee who distracts Peter from his troubles. Much of the filming took place at Oahu's Turtle Bay Resort.
He also noted that shows like "Lost" have helped create an impressive infrastructure here that includes highly skilled crew members, thus facilitating a smooth shoot. This (and mai tais every night) helped ease the 32-year-old Stoller's transition from writer ("Fun with Dick and Jane," "Strangers with Candy") to director. He thinks it's beneficial for a writer to direct, simply because comedy is "all story and jokes, and the skill of the writer is to make sure that each scene makes sense in the context of the story," but he admitted that he lacked confidence in his debut behind the camera.
"I was scared I wouldn't be able to do it," he said. "It's complicated. I was also scared that I would be a little bit bored. But it was super-fun." "It felt like the end of the creative process. To get to write jokes in this ... and shoot the kind of movie I'd like to see was just really thrilling."
For every verbal exchange, the sitcom-trained Stoller said he shot five or six alternate jokes, letting the camera roll as everyone "threw out lines." Though nearly 40 percent of the movie contains improvised moments, Stoller said these emerged from a solid script. The end result? A flick likely to attract large audiences and, because the setting plays itself, plenty of attention for Hawaii in the coming months.