- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Universal Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
n case you didn’t hear, it’s good to have friends in high places. For Jason Segel, that friend just happens to be Judd Apatow. After transforming Seth Rogen into a leading man with “Knocked Up” and catapulting director Jake Kasdan into the big leagues with “Walk Hard,” the next logical choice for promotion amongst the Apatow disciples was Segel. It just so happens that Segel is also the most talented of the trio, and though his new film “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” never quite attains the same comedic excellence of past Apatow projects (“The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Superbad”), it’s still a really funny romantic comedy that is sure to gain a dedicated following of its own.
Jason Segel plays Peter Bretter, a struggling musician who works on a popular TV crime drama starring up-and-coming actress Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). Sarah also happens to be Peter’s longtime girlfriend – which makes the fact that he doesn’t like his job a little more bearable – but when she suddenly breaks up with him one day, Peter flies to Hawaii to escape his surroundings. When he arrives, he’s shocked to discover that Sarah is vacationing at the same resort with her new boyfriend, eccentric Brit rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). Determined to make the best of his stay, Peter finds company in a free-spirited receptionist (Mila Kunis), much to the dismay of a now-jealous Sarah.
Like every other Apatow production, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is about 20 minutes too long. Unfortunately, it’s more evident here than in the past because you’re not as busy laughing. Segel’s script has more character development than it probably needs, and though the funny moments are really funny, they also come few and far between from what Apatow fans have come to expect. Additionally, Segel isn’t a very convincing leading man, and though he’s a much better actor than guys like Seth Rogen, he just doesn’t have the kind of charisma one needs to carry an entire film. Sure, the lovelorn loser shtick (which he perfected on “Freaks & Geeks” and “Undeclared”) is Segel's bread-and-butter, but audiences can only sympathize with that kind of character for so long before it starts to get annoying.
Thank God, then, for Russell Brand and Mila Kunis. As the respective love interests of Sarah and Peter, they do just enough with their limited screen time to save the entire film from dipping into mediocrity. Brand (who could easily join Simon Pegg and Sacha Baron Cohen at the forefront of the British comedy invasion), steals the show as the straight-talking rocker, while Kunis proves that it takes a very special actress to outshine Kristen Bell. The latter may be enjoying her current status as the ultimate fanboy fantasy, but Kunis wipes the floor with her here, and she does so looking ten times hotter. I’ve never given the former “That ‘70s Show” star much credit in the past, but she’s definitely got what it takes to make it in the business.
Also delivering great support is Bill Hader as Peter’s supportive stepbrother, but that’s where the good fortune ends. Paul Rudd is hit-and-miss as a clueless surf shop owner, Jack McBrayer is totally one-dimensional as a sexually incompetent honeymooner, and Jonah Hill continues to reache new heights of overexposure as the resort’s wacky waiter. Had Judd Apatow not been so concerned with hooking his buddies up with supporting roles, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” might have been the year's best comedy. As it stands, the movie is right on par with "Knocked Up," and while that may be enough for some people, it really should have been better.
Unrated Blu-Ray Review:
After two weeks of miscues, Universal is back on track with the two-disc release of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” True, the second disc is actually only a digital copy of the film, but there’s so much great bonus material crammed on to the first disc that you won’t even care. Blu-ray owners get lots of exclusive goodies, including visual commentary with director Nick Stoller and cast, a picture-in-picture video track filled with interviews, rehearsals and other behind-the-scenes footage, and an optional karaoke track for each of the film’s musical performances. The disc is also filled with the usual Apatow goodies like deleted/extended scenes, alternate line readings, and a gag reel, as well additional bits from the sex and bar montages, and a deleted scene from the Dracula musical that was cut for a good reason.
And still, there’s more – like a brief making-of on “A Taste For Love,” a table read of the “Dracula’s Lament” scene, a profile on Russell Brand as Aldous Snow, a short segment involving Snow on a “Sesame Street”-like children’s program (“The Letter U”), and a music video for his song “We’ve Got to Do Something.” Rounding out the set is a series of video production diaries, extra footage from the video chat between Jason Segel and Bill Hader, additional scenes from “Crime Scene", and alternate promos for Sarah Marshall’s new show. My favorite? “Jesus H. Cop.”