'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' is being flagged everywhere as being from the producers of 'Knocked Up' and 'The 40-Year-Old Virgin', but it doesn't live up to the expectations of such associations. Judd Apatow directed those films, but here he just has producing credits with Nicholas Stoller making his directorial debut, and Jason Segel writing and starring as Peter Brennar.
It just goes to show that Apatow's name being associated with a film does not automatically give it the seal of quality. This 'romantic disaster movie' ups the squirming in your seat factor while sacrificing laugh-out-loud moments.
Peter Brennar (Segel) has always played second fiddle to his beautiful, successful actress girlfriend, the eponymous Sarah Marshall (Bell). The star of a cheesy 'CSI' clone show, she is adored while he is left to hold her handbag on the red carpet. Ever the underachieving slacker, he is happy with this arrangement, churning out "dark, ominous tones" to soundtrack the show, and spending much of his time eating gigantic bowls of cereal in front of the TV.
His comfortable situation is turned on its head when Sarah unexpectedly breaks up with him, and he falls into an inconsolable rut. But the heartbreak has only begun when by coincidence he and Sarah meet on holidays in Hawaii, she on the arm of her new beau, Aldous Snow, the renowned lothario and rock star (Brand).
Cue scenes of extreme awkwardness as Peter is left sobbing into his Pina Coladas while they flaunt their relationship in front of him. Luckily, things begin to look up for him when Rachel (Kunis), the cute, thoughtful hotel receptionist takes an interest in him. Of course things can't end happily ever after here, with further complications arising when Sarah tries to patch things up with him.
Segel is a likeable leading man, if lacking in the comic timing and star quality of previous Apatow favourites Steve Carrell or Seth Rogen. Bell hasn't got much to work with as his ex, coming across as shrill, spoilt and conceited. She is given a token scene towards the end to show her side of the story, but it's not enough.
It's Russell Brand who steals the show, serving up some of the funniest lines of the film, like when he is asked by an obsessive waiter if he'd listened to his demo, deadpanning his reply: "I was going to listen to that, but then I just carried on living my life." Mila Kunis has great screen presence, radiating star quality throughout, while Jonah Hill and Bill Hader put in passable performances in undemanding bit parts.
As a whole the film doesn't deliver, hampered by a rushed script, poor editing and a lack of balance between the sentimentality and crudeness that have become synonymous with Apatow productions.