After an unexpected breakup, a devastated young musician travels to Hawaii in order to sort things out in the comedic journey “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
Peter Bretter (Jason Segel) is in the unique position to not only be dating a television star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) but also display his musical talents as the score writer for her popular crime show. Segel is best remembered for his work on the cult fave “Freaks and Geeks” but also as one of Judd Apatow’s stable of onscreen guy’s guy slackers in “Knocked Up.” He now steps into the spotlight where we immediately learn two things: he’s charmingly funny, and he has absolutely no problem with nudity.
After Sarah informs him that there is someone else and dumps him, his stepbrother (“Saturday Night Live’s” Bill Hader) pushes him to take a break, and Peter heads off for Hawaii. Once again, two pieces of knowledge are acquired, only this time by Peter. The first piece of info is that the hotel customer service rep Rachel (“That ’70s Show’s” Mila Kunis) is an attractive young lady that actually possesses compassion, and that his ex Sarah is staying at the same hotel with her new beau, the pop icon Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). To get the gist of Snow, think a talentless, brainless Mick Jagger. That will get you into at least the ballpark’s outfield.
Peter is forced to work his way through his issues and come out of his shell. A small romantic thing with Rachel begins to develop, and Peter finds himself recharged and renewed. After a series of events place he and Rachel in the company of Sarah and her new man, Peter learns that perhaps he has been missing something in life. Ironically, around this time Sarah begins to question her decisions as well. Faced with a burgeoning romance and new inspiration, Peter must decide to move forward if he can ever forget Sarah Marshall.
Once again, Apatow has managed to sneak in under the guise of adult-tinged comedy and surprise us with a truly well-rounded flick. “Sarah Marshall” is a wonderfully warm, totally goofball comedy full of outlandish moments and familiar faces that will satisfy even the most persnickety of viewers.
As with all of Apatow’s works — “Freaks and Geeks” all the way to “Drillbit Taylor” — it is the complete ensemble more than any one individual that drives the finished product. We see a slice of real life in all its quirky glory through the eyes of the lead, and it is in that quirky glory that the gems reside. “Superbad’s” Jonah Hill and his waiter with and uncomfortable man crush and matching personality, Paul Rudd’s completely burnt surf instructor Chuck, “30 Rock’s” neurotic hick intern Kenneth’s (Jack McBrayer) sexually frightened young Christian newly wed and of course the mountain of man and personality Davon McDonald and his gruff bartender with a tender side.
“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is sweet, it is poignant, it is fall-down funny and it is just lewd enough to make you remember that you are an adult and not part of a Disney world but also not watching a straight-to-DVD “American Pie” release. No one, other than perhaps Simon Pegg (“Shaun of the Dead”) has captured the comedic side of the human element with such insight since perhaps John Hughes with his stable of classics (“Uncle Buck,” “16 Candles,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”), and Apatow should be lauded for his vision.