Saturday, 26 April 2008

Forgetting Sarah Marshall - Review by Joseph Wren

Director: Nicholas Stoller
Screenwriter: Jason Segal
Certificate: 15
Running Time: 112 mins
Release Date: 25 April

Putzy score composer Peter (Jason Segal) has been dating TV crime drama star Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) for over five years. Sarah finally drops the schmuck for international rock star Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), leaving Peter to wallow on his couch eating vats of cereal before taking a trip to Hawaii in hopes of cheering up and working on his Dracula puppet musical. But guess who else is at the same resort? That’s right, Sarah and Aldous just happen to be there to inadvertently torture poor Peter with their canoodling. Lucky for Peter, island beauty Rachel (Mila Kunis) is next in line to realize his (and male audience members) fantasies.

Like with the films of Kevin Smith, the Apatow universe maintains similar themes and characters throughout: average guys constantly dating women way out of their league, breakups, and bro-hood are all here to keep the status quo. Appealing to masculine emotions is what these films do best, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall performs its functions in that respect. How terrifying is it to know that the girl you loved for five years is now having incredible sex with a global superstar? And how incurable is the pain when you realize that he’s actually a pretty cool guy? Russell Brand, in his big American breakthrough role, steals the film by basically satirizing himself. In one of the film’s truly hilarious moments, Brand lends sex advice to Christian newlywed Darald (30 Rock’s Jack McBrayer) while using gigantic chess pieces on a beach as teaching aids.

There are a lot of bit roles given out to the usual suspects - Paul Rudd is wasted as a stoned surf instructor, Bill Hader is an annoying relative giving bad relationship advice, and Jonah Hill is probably just here because someone lost a bet (seriously, why is this guy in movies?!). Kristin Bell’s character is shallowly drawn, but luckily Mila Kunis is given slightly more bite. As an actress possessing both striking beauty and sharp comedic instinct, Kunis is well suited to become one of this generation’s leading ladies of rom-com. The same cannot be said for the likes of the film’s leading man, Jason Segal. Playing the lead role from his own script, Segal is bland and forgettable, a truly average guy. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is at times a very funny picture, and ironically those laughs are delivered by Apatow outsiders Brand and McBrayer, whose characters are based on previous material, leading one to surmise that there’s little creative juices left in Team Apatow’s tank. However, that imported injection of fresh humour is successful in making Forgetting Sarah Marshall a fun romantic comedy, delivering false hope to average guys across the land that someday, somehow, a gorgeous woman will fall for them…and when that woman gets smart enough to leave them, an even more stunning beauty awaits.

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