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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

FORGETTING Sarah Marshall, the latest from the Judd Apatow camp, proudly lays claim to being the first romantic disaster comedy. At times, it’s just a plain disaster.

Written by and starring Jason Segel (the guy from Knocked Up who hit on Katherine Heigl’s sister), it does have its moments but fails to hang together as a coherent whole.

The film picks up as slacker music composer Peter (Segel) is unceremoniously dumped (in the nude!) by girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell), the star of the hit cop show he writes the score for.

Distraught, he heads to Hawaii to try and get over the hurt but is alarmed to find Sarah and her new boyfriend (Russell Brand) staying in the same resort. Peter nevertheless resolves to stay and winds up attracting the attention of the hotel’s beautiful concierge, Rachel (Mila Kunis), as a result.

Aside from the obvious problems of basing a broad comedy around the pain of a break-up, the film also suffers from a feeling of over-indulgence that’s reflected in the needlessly long running time. At almost two hours, it does rather stretch the point.

Segel, for his part, clearly has talent, especially as a writer, but his leading man credentials are sorely found wanting at several points in the journey, mostly because he’s given himself too much to do.

He’s at his best and most endearing during the short, sharp bursts of out and out comedy, or the montage/flashback sequences, but struggles with some of the more emotional stuff and fails to make his character as sympathetic as he should have been. Likewise, Kristen Bell’s Sarah Marshall, who is just plain annoying.

Russell Brand enjoys some terrific lines late on but struggles to escape from his television personality, while Apatow regulars Jonah (Superbad) Hill and Paul (Knocked Up) Rudd appear sporadically to give a lift to proceedings without ever really adding that much to the narrative. Only Kunis shines, her feisty Rachel providing a welcome antidote to Sarah Marshall and the one truly likeable character in the film.

As for the comedy itself, it’s mostly bawdy, occasionally crude and more hit and miss than usual. Inspired gags include a recurring William Baldwin cameo featuring excerpts from the TV show Crime Scene: Scene Of The Crime, a vampire rock opera involving puppets and some truly outrageous sexual endeavours. But for every one that hits, there are four more that don’t and the gap between the laughs gets longer as time goes on.

So, while Forgetting Sarah Marshall will make you laugh in places, it may well leave you yawning and crying for mercy too. It’s probably worth giving it the cold shoulder in cinemas and waiting for the DVD (which is out now!).

Certificate: 15
Running time: 111mins
UK DVD Release: September 15, 2008