There is no hotter name in money making movies right now than Judd Apatow. After the hilarious “Knocked Up” became a surprisingly huge money earner he followed it up by producing the equally (if not more) hilarious “Superbad,” another huge hit. Now Apatow has lent his name and producing cred to “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and while the film has some laugh out-loud moments, it’s very poorly constructed and what we see onscreen seems to be the victim of either bad editing, poor direction or a script that was rushed into production too quickly. Snarky Apatow cynics will finally have their day as “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is a fumble on the goal line.
The storyline is a simple one. Composer Peter Bretter (Segel) is madly in love with his hot TV actress girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Bell). One day she comes over and unceremoniously dumps him sending him into a downward spiral of heartbroken self -loathing as he finds he is totally incapable of, you guessed it, forgetting Sarah Marshall. The fact that this interminable amount of time he has to forget her is all of two weeks (after a five year relationship) seems totally irrelevant as Peter takes the advice of his step-brother Brian (Hader) and heads off to Hawaii to try and regain some sense of sanity. As fate would have it, Peter ends up in the very same hotel as Sarah Marshall and her new boyfriend, slimy British rock superstar Aldous Snow (Brand).
Wanting to save face and not seem like he’s running away, Peter decides to stay at the hotel and with the help of adorable and charming desk clerk Rachael (Kunis) gets set up in the swanky resort free of charge. From here we cue the funny as Peter sees Sarah and Aldous everywhere he goes. As I said, there are some truly hysterical moments in the film but overall it just felt rushed, half-cooked and strangely episodic. Kind of like the drunk guy at the party who’s trying to be funny, realizes he’s not being funny so then begins to do more and more outrageous things that make no sense and reek of desperation. For instance, there’s a whole subplot about a newlywed couple having troubles in the sack that serves absolutely no purpose to the film other than for some good one-liners. Paul Rudd who everyone (including me) loves makes a totally phoned in appearance as a surfing instructor who also serves no purpose to the plot of the film. Thinking back on it, there’s at least five random, non sequitur events in the film that strive to be funny, eke out a chuckle and then are never referenced or brought up again. Very weird.
I think Segel is good in the prototypical schlubby Apatow lead actor role, even though he seems very interested in making sure we all see his penis (more than once) and Bell as Marshall does her job: she’s hot and makes you see why Peter can’t forget her. The real stars here are Russell Brand who turns in a perfectly skeezy performance as Snow and Mila Kunis who really should get more feature film work. She’s completely stunning, funny and has a real sassiness to her.
I feel bad coming down rather hard on this film as ultimately, it did make me laugh. But having thought about it, I just have to admit I don’t think it’s a very good movie. The rush to capitalize on the Apatow name and get more of his role players onscreen (Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Paul Rudd and Jason Segel are all Apatow regulars) as soon as possible is totally evident in the messy and forgettable “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”