This hilariously balls-out comedy is heavily advertised as being “from the guys who brought you The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up” and indeed, it was produced by Judd Apatow and a few of the cast members of his films show up here (notably Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader and, of course, writer-star Jason Segel). More importantly, it clearly shares a sensibility specific to those films. And I’m not just talking about their gloriously shameless sense of humor, which also links them to the works of fellow foul-mouthed filmmakers Kevin Smith and the Farrelly brothers, but about how, like Apatow’s directorial efforts, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” is one of those rare romantic comedies that are clearly made by and for guys.
No handsome, successful, dreamy leading man here: Peter Bretter (Segel) is a goofy-faced, chubby, breakfast cereal-eating, sweatpants-wearing couch potato who somehow managed to get a job composing the “dark, ominous tones” of the music of a “C.S.I.”-style TV series and, most miraculously, got himself into a relationship with the show’s hot young star, Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). But after five years, the girl got tired of the slob and dumped him, leaving him with nothing but a broken heart and his dick in his hand (quite literally!). After a few weeks of feeling miserable, Peter decides to take a holiday in Hawaii to clear his mind, which seems likely when he hits it off with an even hotter, younger girl (Mila Kunis). But as (cruel) fate would have it, it turns out that he’s staying at the same hotel as his ex and her new boyfriend, douche bag rock star (Russell Brand, sorta-kinda doing a British Dave Navarro)…
The basic plot is pretty standard rom-com fodder and, in some stretches, as is the case in Apatow’s movies, this slightly weighs things down. But more often than not, you won’t even notice the by-the-numbers storytelling and the point-and-shoot direction of first-time helmer Nicholas Stoller, because you’ll be laughing too hard from the non-stop profanity, wonderfully random pop culture references, surprisingly graphic sex humor and great supporting performances. And then there’s Jason Segel who, both as the film’s screenwriter and as its lead actor, shows absolutely no shame. Whether baring his flabby body enough to make Will Ferrell seem demure, being emasculated in every possible way or crying like there’s no tomorrow, Segel lets it all hang out, and we love him for it!
Oh, and French Canadian audiences will be particularly tickled by the fact that a ridiculous Dracula musical features prominently in the film!