Picture this scenario. You’re the long-term squeeze of a successful TV actress, one Sarah Marshall. After 5 years together she ups and leaves you for another hairier and more virile man. What do you do?
Well, if you’re Peter Bretter, you weep. Uncontrollably. For a good few days. Then you dust yourself off, take a holiday, and head to Hawaii.
Of course, current teen-comedy supremo Judd Apatow isn’t going to let you off the hook that easily. You turn up in the sunshine paradise, and, oh yes, Sarah’s there. And so’s her new boyfriend…
The latest film produced by Apatow (Knocked Up, 40-Year-Old Virgin, Superbad) has more of his usual mix of touching sentiment and teen-friendly humour. The action flies from one embarassing scenario to another, and director Nicholas Stoller keeps the action cracking along nicely. There’s also a clever series of flashbacks showing more of the relationship Sarah and Peter have left behind, and they provide extra laughs as well as filling in the plot gaps.
Screenwriter and star Jason Segel is pretty damn funny as Peter, playing out a hilarious emotional breakdown before holding interest well through the rest of the movie, and Russell Brand is surprisingly entertaining as lothario/rock god Aldous Snow. In fairness Brand’s character is “Russell Brand with a singing career”, and it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch to play yourself. However he does bring real charisma and charm to the role. Sleazy, womanizing charm, but that’s just his style.
Apatow alumni Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd put in great cameos as a pair of whacked-out hotel employees, and Mila Kunis (the voice of Meg in Family Guy, true story) is decent as flirty love interests in romantic comedies go.
The script, sadly, doesn’t quite crackle like you might expect it to. There are some inspired moments, and a clutch of one-liners that you’ll chuckle away at, but there’s little in the way of true comedy gold. The romantic element is well-handled though, and there’s no cloying sentimentality or lazy cliches at work.
The running time of almost 2 hours is a bit excessive, and you could find yourself searching for a quick resolution as the film nears its end. On the up side, there’s constant shifts in the action during the final third, and there are no protracted ‘romantic chase scenes’ or anything like that to pad out the action.
So Forgetting Sarah Marshall‘s enjoyable, funny, and sweet. Mentally challenging? No. A classic? Not by any stretch. But it’s still entertaining, and well worth a look, not least to get tips on what to do when Russell Brand steals your woman. Which is a distinct possibility, and it’s always best to be prepared…
Forgetting Sarah Marshall is out now. Certificate 15. Oh and that picture is copyright of Universal Pictures.
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