When I first heard about Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I wasn’t all that intrigued. Sure, they cast Jonah Hill in one of the supporting roles, but it just sounded like yet another forgettable romantic comedy.
In a nutshell, Forgetting Sarah Marshall follows the tale of Peter Bretter (played by Jason Segel of How I Met Your Mother fame; he also penned the script), a poor sap who gets dumped by his hot and famous girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell).
Peter seems like a decent enough guy, but he is absolutely heartbroken by the news. To try and get away from everything that reminds him of Sarah Marshall, he takes a solo trip to Hawaii. The trouble is, when he arrives on the islands, he discovers that Sarah is staying at the exact same hotel. And she’s staying there with her new boyfriend, an English rocker named Aldous Snow (played by Russell Brand).
What ensues are a series of sappy scenes where we are supposed to feel sorry for Peter, intertwined with quite a bit of raunchiness and crude humor. If this sort of comedy sounds familiar, that’s because Judd Apatow produced this film; he’s the same guy that brought us The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and Superbad. Just when you think that he’s building up something sappy and emotional, he throws male full frontal nudity at you. I’m not even kidding.
The supporting cast, like Jack McBrayer and Maria Thayer shown above, do a decent job at breaking up the action, but the main focus is on Sarah, Peter, Aldous, and the girl who works the front desk of the hotel, Rachel Jansen. She’s played by Mila Kunis, who you might remember as Jackie from That 70s Show, and she serves as the new love interest for Peter. You can see all four of them in some NSFW action on YouTube.
At times, the writing is quite clever and I found myself laughing a fair bit at the dialogue. There is one scene, for instance, where one of the hotel staff finds Peter naked in his bed, surrounded by tissues. He is then asked if those are happy tissues or sad tissues.
I was particularly pleased with the performance of Russell Brand. His air of English arrogance is fantastic and he delivers some of the most memorable lines of the movie. When asked if he listened to Jonah Hill’s demo CD, he replies, “I was gonna listen to that, but then, um, I just carried on living my life.” On a side note, the ambiguously gay behavior of Jonah Hill’s character was certainly off-putting.
The story feels fragmented a lot of the time and all the parts seem to just fall apart for no good reason at the end, but we have to remember that it’s a journey thing and the final destination of a movie isn’t quite as important as how we get there.
As it stands, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a perfectly enjoyable and, at times, raunchy romantic comedy (it’s rated R), but it does not live up to the Judd Apatow expectations set forth by the 40-Year-Old Virgin and Superbad. It’s ultimately forgettable, but at least we had a good laugh along the way.