After having his name attached to comedic gems like "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Superbad," it's no surprise that Judd Apatow is what's hot in Hollywood right now. In fact, can you name the last comedy that didn't have the tagline, "From the guy who brought you ‘Knocked Up' and ‘Superbad'" in front of it?
In the past three years, Apatow has been involved in 13 projects as producer, writer or director. The latest film from his Apatow Productions Company is "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," the ultimate in disastrous romantic comedy. Directed by Nicholas Stoller, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" stars Jason Segel (of "How I Met Your Mother" and "Knocked Up" fame), who also wrote the film.
Segel plays Peter Bretter, a struggling musician who has spent the past five years in a relationship with Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), a superstar actress on one of those "Crime Scene" shows. His whole life revolves around Sarah, as Peter serves as composer for her show, delivering dark and ominous tones to the cheesy dialogue his lover delivers.
To the public, Peter might as well be the invisible man. He's the guy left holding the purse in paparazzi photos - the guy in the background during interviews and press junkets who appears to be lost. He's a phantom on the red carpet, an all-out nobody and he's completely convinced that the only thing he's got is Ms. Sarah Marshall.
Unfortunately for Peter, he's about to lose the only thing he's got. Sarah initiates a ‘we need to talk' conversation, which leads to a painful breakup. After a few fits of crying, extreme depression and an unsuccessful bout of womanizing, Peter finally loses it and has an on-the-job nervous breakdown.
Not having Sarah might just ruin Peter's shattered life. He decides to get away from it all, and so he takes a vacation to Hawaii to clear his head and put Sarah Marshall in the past. Everything's going great until his worst nightmare is realized right before his eyes: Sarah is staying at the same resort with her new boyfriend, British rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand).
You've got to feel for the guy, right? It's only been a couple of weeks and Sarah is already shacked up with some famous rock God, mean while Peter is locked in his room, crying his eyes out like a school girl who scraped her knees. It's just not right.
While Peter torments himself with the idea of Sarah sharing her life with someone new, he finds comfort in meeting Rachel (Mila Kunis), a gorgeous resort employee who ignites within Peter a small sense of hope. Maybe life without Sarah Marshall is possible after all.
What sets "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" apart from other romantic comedies is how likeable all of the characters are. Like real life, there are two sides to every story, and we realize early on that Peter and Sarah both have their faults, and we the audience are never left with a clear-cut impression of who is at fault for the deterioration of their relationship. Segel's performance as the everyman is perfect here, and Russell Brand's rock ‘n' roll lothario is full of laughs and brutal, sometimes disgusting honesty. He is a pure straight womanizer and makes no qualms about it. Of course I can't forget to mention Mila Kunis, who is sure to make more appearances in future Apatow films. Her beauty and laid-back attitude give her the perfect balance to Marshall's strict, structured personality.
As with all of Apatow's films, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is filled with brilliant co-stars like Jonah Hill ("Superbad"), Bill Hader ("Superbad"), Paul Rudd ("Knocked Up") and Jack McBrayer ("30 Rock"). All in all, this film is believable, honest and not the cookie-cutter fluff we're used to getting from the romantic comedy genre. It's also funny - really funny.
My only complaint is the pacing. The film seems to drag through its low points, namely the first act. After we are introduced to the characters and the situation at hand, the film doesn't really seem to get moving until Peter lands in Hawaii. It probably could have been 10 or 15 minutes shorter and tightened up some of its pacing issues.
"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" is definitely a must-see work of comedy. While not as uproarious as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," this film is definitely one of the finer Rated-R comedies in the past years.