Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the latest movie that is in some way associated with Judd Apatow (he produces here). It is written by and stars Jason Segel, one of Apatow’s troupe from the late great Freaks and Geeks (though most people probably know him from the mediocre How I Met Your Mother and will soon know him for his full frontal). In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Segel’s character, a slacker “musician” gets dumped by his TV star girlfriend (Kristen Bell) for a famous “musician”, falls into a state of depression and disrepair, goes on a vacation to Hawaii to try to get over the break up, but ends up vacationing at the same resort as the ex and her new boyfriend and meeting a new girl. Antics ensue.
All Judd Apatow flicks have some things in common: They follow a traditional romantic comedy storyline, there is some kind of gross out or off-colour humor running throughout every scene and they are all at least twenty minutes too long (even the good ones–40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad needed massive editing) because…you know the ending of each of his films at some point in the first half hour of the film. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is no exception. Unfortunately, it is not one of the better versions using Apatow’s template.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s biggest problems stem from the director, Nicholas Stoller (his debut) and who ever did the editing. They expect you to know the romantic comedy formula, so they do not develop the plot beyond a cursory sketch. With those brief moments of film out of the way, one is left to decide if they like the film based on a series of comedy, probably improv’d, scenes; many of which in no way relate to or further the storyline (I do not like when films do this). If you like enough of the scenes (I started keeping a tally somewhere in the middle of the film) and don’t care that you knew the story before you walked into the theater, than you will like this film. I don’t mean this sentiment to be derogatory. I have read other reviews that are quite positive not because the story is so original, they admit that it is not, but because they like the road that was taken to get back home. There are plenty of films I like that fit this same mold (Ex. staying in the rom com field, Notting Hill; or staying with Judd Apatow, Knocked Up). Forgetting Sarah Marshall just did not happen to be funny enough to push me over the edge into liking this film.
Virtually every one of the attempted comedy scenes (i.e. the whole film) involves two characters one of whom is Jason Segel. The biggest laughs come from Russell Brand who play Kristen Bell’s new love interest. He steals every scene he is in. Paul Rudd playing a dimwitted surfer has the second best scenes. Sadly–because I like him a lot–Jonah Hill’s scenes are the worst by far. Kristen Bell is serviceable, but does not quite have the comedic chops to hang with the rest of the crew (the scenes from her fake TV show, which is purposefully ripping on CSI:Miami, are pretty hysterical, though). Other actors are hit or miss.
Ultimately, the best person in this film is Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show). She is the only one who is able to elevate the movie into actually including both Romance and Comedy–even at the same time. It was really nice to see, and I hope she gets more opportunities to show off her skills.
If you are bored you could do worse than going to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall (you could rent Shooter. Man, I hate that movie.), but I would probably wait until it comes out on video.