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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Nicola Mostyn on a good natured rom com to please both sexes

Published on May 7th 2008.


Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Nobody likes to be dumped. And it’s even worse when you’re butt naked. Alas, such is the fate of composer Peter (Jason Segal), who is chucked by his TV-star girlfriend Sarah (Kristen Bell) whilst fresh out of the shower, affording audiences a full frontal view of his distress.

Devastated, Peter heads off to Hawaii to get away from it all. Unfortunately, Sarah is there too, with new boyfriend, cool-as-you-like rockstar Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). With the help of beautiful receptionist Rachel (Mila Kunis) and the rest of the hotel staff, can Peter get over his lost love?

Written by Segal, directed by Nicholas Stoller and, crucially, produced by Judd Apatow, of Superbad and Knocked Up fame, Forgetting Sarah Marshall contains plenty of the good hearted, naturalistic, slightly random humour which made the aforementioned movies such a hit.

Segal is wonderful in the lead role, combining just the right measure of appealing and pathetic. Quite what Americans must make of Russell Brand is anyone’s guess but even to us Brits (who can see that Brand is just playing himself) his pseudo-spiritual musician is a winner, with the performer managing, on film as in life, to be both impossibly pretentious and extremely likeable.

Kristen Bell is perfect for the role of the ambitious actress, Sarah, while Mila Kunis makes a great foil as Rachel, the possible love interest who is as warm, funny and natural as Sarah is icy and uptight.

Not only are the leads great but the supporting cast are excellent, with even the smallest roles benefiting from well-written characters and hilarious set pieces, such as Bill Hader as Peter’s straight talking step brother Brian, Paul Rudd’s stoner surf instructor Chuck and Jack McBrayer’s hilarious newlywed Christian Darald, plus an assortment of hilarious waiters and bartenders.

With this sort of generous script, there are giggles throughout this film.

Some of these are intelligent, such as the satire of glossy CSI-style shows, and some are just plain daft. It’s refreshing to watch a film which treats its audience as intelligent but also acknowledges they like to laugh at knob jokes.

As well as the plentiful humour, Forgetting Sarah Marshall also delivers a convincing and sensitive depiction of relationships, although admittedly within the slightly unbelievable confines of the rom-com format. So, the audience finds out more about Peter and Sarah as the film progresses, as, via flashbacks, the couple recall aspects of their relationship which reveal how they were when they were together, and how they might have deceived themselves about it.

Despite the boy-loses-girl plotline, this is a real feel-good film, the perfect break-up movie, with a witty, brilliant soundtrack, plenty of laughs and a huge amount of optimism.

Creating a film which ticks the laddish humour and romantic comedy boxes emphatically enough to appeal to both sexes is no mean feat – but Apatow and crew seems to have it nailed. Let’s hope they can keep them coming.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is on general release

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rogerMay 7th 2008.

test ignore

rogerMay 7th 2008.

a specialist test, ignore

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