Producer Judd Apatow has tapped into an interesting formula. His trademarked combination of raunchy humor, full frontal male nudity and rom com sentimentality has proven to be a potent elixir in past hits like Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin. His latest confection, a laugh-out-loud funny break-up movie called Forgetting Sarah Marshall mines similar territory with hilarious results.
When we first meet Peter Bretter (Freaks and Geeks’s Jason Segel) he’s a struggling musician, paying the bills by scoring a CSI rip-off called Crime Scene. He’s also dating the star of the show Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell of Veronica Mars) who turns his life upside down when she dumps him for an outlandish pop star named Aldous Snow (Russell Brand).
To mend his broken heart he books a weekend trip to Hawaii and checks into an upmarket ocean resort. There’s only one problem— Sarah and her new flame are also staying there. Peter is saved from going over the brink by Rachael (Mila Kunis from That 70s Show) a sympathetic desk clerk also nursing a broken heart. She provides much needed emotional support and an attractive shoulder to cry on.
Will Peter’s heart heal? Will he ever finish his Dracula rock opera featuring life size vampire puppets?
I think you probably know the answers to those questions already and you haven’t even seen the movie, but Forgetting Sarah Marshall isn’t as much about the sit-comish situation as it is about the characters in the story. Bretter is completely likeable as the everyman heartsick composer. He’s equal parts vulnerability, charm and goofiness. It’s a winning combo that gets the audience on side immediately and keeps them there throughout. Kunis is warm and funny as the damaged desk clerk, British comedian Russell Brand comes very close to stealing the show as the dense rock star and Jonah Hill (Superbad) is creepily funny as the star struck hotel waiter.
Like Knocked Up and others in the Apatow cannon Forgetting Sarah Marshall serves up standard movie situations—the ex-lovers staying at the same hotel—but tweaks them with an audacious mix of outrageous vulgarity and full-on, full-Monty male nudity and sweet sentimentality that makes them a fun R-rated night out.