Probably the most conventional offering yet from the Apatow empire, Forgetting Sarah Marshall has its share of balls-out funny moments—quite literally, in the already-famous opening sequence, in which composer Peter (Segel, who also wrote the script) suffers repeated towel malfunctions during a breakup with his eponymous TV-star girlfriend (Bell). She’s been seeing Aldous Snow (Brand), the alarmingly limber lead singer of a band called Infant Sorrow, which means the synths Peter has provided for her CSI-like show now seem rather quaint by comparison. Peter gets away from it all by jetting to Sarah’s favorite vacation spot in Hawaii—which naturally leads to an awkward run-in with the two lovebirds. Rebound romance with a hotel receptionist (Kunis) can’t be far behind.
Too much time in the sun breeds laziness, and Sarah Marshall has a structural laxness that befits its setting, as if no one got around to trimming the outtakes. (When the parts don’t fit, director Nicholas Stoller simply cuts to a born-again couple going at it.) Some of the randomness sticks: Paul Rudd’s terminally blitzed surfing instructor is a riot, and it’s difficult to avoid a spit-take during a scene from Peter’s Dracula rock opera. Other curveballs merely feel random. “Don’t tell me I didn’t try,” Sarah cries to Peter, in what seems like a calculated retort to the charges of male-centrism that greeted Knocked Up and Superbad; it’s actually just a down payment on Sarah’s eventual shaming. Regarding the material that didn’t work, Stoller should have taken Rudd’s character’s advice: “When life gives you lemons, just fuck the lemons and bail.”
Cast and crew