Forgetting Sarah Marshall is doomed to be remembered as “that naked break-up movie” though it’s considerably more. For one thing, the naked break-up is a simultaneously funny and poignant scene and Jason Segel’s performance as Peter [the breakee] is staggeringly vulnerable. For another, that vulnerability continues to come into play when Peter tries to get away from it all at the same Hawaiian resort where Sarah [Kristin Bell] is staying with her rock god boyfriend. In turn, Peter’s heartbreak is tempered by Rachel [Mila Kunis], a pretty, intelligent hotel employee who has also had a miserable heartbreak.
Segel‘s script meanders a bit, but those wanderings lead to emotional payoffs that make sense – especially when news that the TV series that stars Sarah, and for which he composes the “dark, ominous tones,” has been cancelled. A comment from Rachel leads Peter to finish his dream project [a rock opera for puppets – about Dracula and his search for True Love], while Aldous’ [the rock god, played by Russell Brand] behavior has Sarah rethinking leaving Peter.
Director Nicholas Stoller keeps the wandering script focused and gets terrific performances from his entire cast. Check out supporting work by the reliable Paul Rudd [as a goofy surfing guru] and Jonah Hill as Aldous’ number one fan. Stoller understands the necessity for an extra beat in a quiet moment and how to set up a gag without being obvious. As a result, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is one of the best films to come out of the Judd Apatow crude-with-a-heart comedy factory. I may not have laughed as often as the lady behind me, but I did laugh and smile and chuckle enough to recommend Forgetting Sarah Marshall as more than your daily recommended dose of fun.
Final Grade: B+