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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Nearly Unforgettable

Comedy "auteur" Judd Apatow and his posse of actors (Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, etc.) have struck comedic gold time and again these past few years with classics such as The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad. Once again Apatow comes up with a brilliantly comedic and awkward premise in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In short, Peter (Jason Segel) is dumped unceremoniously by his girlfriend Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell). In an attempt to "forget" Sarah Marshall, Peter heads to Hawaii for a vacation and ends up at a resort where Sarah is staying…with her new boyfriend.

What unfolds are a series of some of the most brilliantly inspired awkward moments one could fathom. It’s bad enough that Peter is at the same resort as his ex, but Peter’s room is right next to hers. He goes to dinner by himself (after having the waiter underscore the fact that he’s alone multiple times) and finds himself seated directly across from Sarah and the new rockstar (frontman for "Infant Sorrow") boyfriend, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand). In short, there IS no "forgetting" Sarah Marshall.

While Jason Segel’s performance is not necessarily unforgettable, he’s solid as the charmingly hapless and sweet Peter. It’s a bit of a stretch to see someone like Peter with a blonde bombshell like Sarah Marshall, but odder couplings have happened before. What’s not a stretch is identifying with Peter. It’s easy for the simple reason that ALL of us have been dumped at one point.

So, it’s refreshing when Peter’s seemingly futile attempts at forgetting Sarah Marshall receive a lifeline as he quickly connects with the painfully cute and friendly Rachel (Mila Kunis) who works at the front desk at the resort. Rachel’s arguably even more attractive than Sarah and doesn’t crap all over Peter’s dream of completing his "Dracula" musical (yes…you read correctly). Unlike Sarah who found it painful to listen to a single song from his vampire musical, Rachel LOVES every bloodsucking one.

But, Rachel’s not the only one who tries to help Peter forget Sarah Marshall. Chuck (Paul Rudd), a mostly stoned surf instructor provides a few (mostly useless) nuggets of wisdom about life and love while trying to help Peter ride his first wave. Rudd has limited screen time, but steals the scene virtually every time he shows up with his hilarious interpretation of a checked out beach bum who only lives for weed and waves.

While not necessarily helpful in Peter’s quest to forget Sarah Marshall, but certainly worth mentioning is the performance of Jonah Hill. Arguably, the funniest man under the age of 25, Jonah Hill has some hysterical moments as "Matthew the waiter". His infatuation with Sarah’s rockstar boyfriend yields some of the funniest moments in the film; likewise, Jonah sets up Aldous for what may be the funniest line of all in the latter stages of the film.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is the funniest film released this year, but it’s only April and Apatow’s next film, Pineapple Express looms large on the horizon. The one criticism that could be made of Forgetting Sarah Marshall was the casting of Jason Segel. While Segel is likable enough and he put forth a solid performance, he doesn’t have the comedic chops of a Seth Rogen, Steve Carrell, or Jonah Hill. Most of the laughs come from Segel’s supporting cast. Fortunately, the supporting cast has plenty of opportunities to make up for any of Segel’s comedic shortcomings.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars