I feel like I’ve written too much about editing to tell you that I’m so close to the end of this movie that I honestly can’t believe it. But that’s boring to everyone now. Including me. So I’m going to share this. Quick. Because I have to run off and clean a house soon so I can buy groceries.
The other day at work I was listening to a Fresh Air podcast. Back to back interviews with David Foster Wallace and Jason Segel. Segel is playing Wallace in the movie The End of the Tour, which I really want to see. But that’s not what made me want to write today.
In the interview, Terry Gross plays a clip from the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Segel’s character has written a Dracula opera for puppets. Yes. It’s everything you could imagine and more. He sings one of his songs in a bar for a girl he just might have a chance with. It’s incredibly embarrassing and yet she’s charmed by it (of course. Hollywood.).
The movie itself is goofy, hilarious, heartfelt. It’s wonderful. Segel’s sad puppy eyes. His naked breakup. I’ve only seen it once. I’ll explain.
On January 19, 2009, my dad died after ten months of really hard cancer treatments. (I know, I know, here she goes talking about her dad again…. Cheryl Strayed has said that she’ll be writing about her mom forever. Same here, I guess. I can’t stop.) The next day, I went to the library with my mom while we ran errands and we borrowed Forgetting Sarah Marshall along with a stack of other DVDs in which I knew no one died. (I avoided movies with death for a very long time.)
That morning my brother, sister, and I watched that movie. My mom came in and out, calling relatives, receiving phone calls.
I don’t know how we were. It breaks my heart to think about us now, sitting in our family room with snow and dead grass and the blinding sunshine outside in the Wisconsin winter. But at the time I don’t think I felt sad. I don’t think I felt anything. Just very very tired. I think I felt tired for five years after that. Even now, I have no problem falling asleep. I have problems staying awake.
We watched the movie. And I’ll tell you – when Jason Segel got up in that bar in Hawaii and sat down at the keyboard and sang a dramatic song in a Dracula voice, we laughed so hard. It was so, so, so funny. It was shocking. And it was the most startling kind of relief.
And I think the classic thing that people would think is that we’d feel guilty. Well, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I did not feel guilty. I felt normal for a second. And it was the best thing I could have asked for that morning.
So when I heard that clip of the movie on this podcast while cleaning I had to sit down. Put down the stainless steel cleaner and sit for a while. Because, again, I was laughing.
I know that I’ve talked a lot about how hard filmmaking is. And it really really is. And this latest push has been one of the hardest yet. All this week I’ve been so tired my bones and joints have throbbed (and I’m 28). My heart feels like it’s beating too quickly due to lack of sleep.
But if I could ever make anything so worthwhile happen for someone else. A laugh or a cry in the right moment in life. Isn’t that worth it? I don’t know, but I’m still trying.
And I know if I ever meet Jason Segel (and I will), I’m going to thank him. Because that was the hardest and easiest laugh I can remember, all at the same time.