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FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL(director: Nicholas Stoller; screenwriter: Jason Segel; cinematographer: Russ T. Alsobrook; editor: William Kerr; music: Lyle Workman; cast: Jason Segel (Peter Bretter), Kristen Bell (Sarah Marshall), Mila Kunis (Racheal), Russell Brand (Aldous Snow), Bill Hader (Brian), Jonah Hill (Matthew the Waiter), Da’vone McDonald (Dwayne the Bartender), Paul Rudd (Chuck), Maria Thayer (Wyoma), Jack McBrayer (Darald), Taylor Wily (Kemo), Liz Cackowski (Liz Bretter); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Judd Apatow/Shauna Robertson; Universal Pictures; 2008)
“Feathery light and lazily put together romantic comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The directorial film debut by Nicholas Stoller, the screenwriter of Fun with Dick and Jane. This feathery light and lazily put together romantic comedy is produced by the Judd Apatow empire (Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin). It smacks of conventional smutty TV sitcom fare and sophomoric male geek humor, as one would expect from the Apatow crowd. It’s written by and stars Apatow regular Jason Segel, an alum of the television series “Freaks and Geeks,” who plays an emotionally torn composer of a crime TV series named Peter Bretter. The ordinary looking guy is into being a slob around the house and is working in his spare time on composing a Dracula rock opera puppet show, but most of the time is a couch potato watching innocuous TV shows while pigging out on giant bowls of Fruit Loops. He’s a goofy but decent guy who goes to pieces after just being dumped by his TV star actress girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), ending a five year relationship between the mismatched opposites. To help him forget his doll girlfriend he first tries a series of one-night stands and when he realizes he’s still miserable, he flees LA to the fancy Turtle Bay resort in Oahu, Hawaii. The resort workers feel so sorry for the loser they take him under their wings, as he’s consoled by the attractive hotel customer relations receptionist, Rachel (Mila Kunis), who offers Peter the hotel’s top-priced suite that goes for $6,000 a day for gratis and her shoulder to bawl away on. Coincidentally, his ex is also staying at the same resort with her new Brit rock-star lover Aldous Snow (Russell Brand, a Brit stand-up comedian), the famous sex-obsessed hedonistic lead singer of Infant Sorrow who is covered with body tattoos, is vain and insincere.

Peter, a man-child, given to a bad case of self-pity, consults by computer with his LA based older and slightly off-kilter but more stable married stepbrother, Brian (Bill Hader), and is advised to make friends at the hotel and forget about Sarah. Much of the material shoots for low brow jokes, about such things as frontal nudity (Peter goes the Full Monty route twice), lame honeymoon jokes and a faking orgasm yuk. Too much of the stuff is more maudlin than laugh-out-loud funny, and all the subplots seem like filler material. It has little to say about relationships that can be taken seriously and none of the characters were especially appealing except for the beautiful and together hottie Rachel, who ends up dating the lost soul nerdy Peter in what may only happen in a script by a male geek dreamer.

In supporting roles, Jack McBrayer plays a Jesus spouting virgin honeymooner overwhelmed by his bride’s sexual appetite; Jonah Hill is a bumbling waiter with a demo CD and a man-crush for Snow; and Paul Rudd is the cool surfing instructor with slacker advice for Peter, such as “When life gives you lemons, just fuck the lemons and bail.”

The razor thin premise over love gone sour for a dude who wants desperately to be loved has enough material for a half hour of TV, but it tries to go the movie distance of 112 minutes and there lies the rub. Yet it should find its audience in those who will find it big-hearted and raunchy enough to get their ticket price worth of cheap thrills. For others, this film about a series of humiliations and a frustrated lover boy should annoy one like superficial guys and gals usually do in real life.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”