{mosimage}The trailers for Forgetting Sarah Marshall (112 minutes) did not offer much in the way of originality.  They looked exactly like every other Judd Apatow movie, with a little bit of classic Steve Martin thrown in for flavor.  But then I discovered that Apatow regular Jason Segel scripted this particular rom-com, and relative newcomer Nicholas Stoller directed.  Without Apatow, is Sarah Marshall worth paying money for?  After the first fifteen minutes in the theater, my answer is yes, absolutely!  This is one of the movies that will appeal to groups of guys, groups of women looking for something to do after lunch, and couples looking for the middle ground between Harold and Kumar and 27 Dresses.  Everyone in the theater laughed in most of the right places (although the guys behind me seemed focused on working out their ex-girlfriend issues, using less than polite terms to describe Sarah Marshall, played by Kristen Bell).

We begin with composer Peter Bretter (Segel) waiting for his girlfriend, television star Sarah Marshall (Bell) to arrive home.  He is a guy’s guy, starting his mid-afternoon with a mixing bowel full of cereal, which he claims is salad when Sarah calls to tell him she is coming over.  After the break up scene (which will either read as unsettlingly real or patently false, depending on what kind of relationships you get involved in), Peter has a series of one night stands culminating in hysterics at his day job. He decides to head to Hawaii, only to find out Sarah is already there with the man she left him for, the pretentious Aldous Snow (Russel Brand).  He stays, and gets to know a simply gorgeous Rachel (Mila Kunis╔was she always this pretty?), who is working on some bad relationship issues of her own.  Amidst several worthy subplots, Wyoma and Darald (played by Maria Thayer and Jack McBrayer) are the standout.  They play repressed and naĢve just marrieds, and the scene where Aldous uses oversized chess players to demonstrate to Darald what he should be doing with Wyoma is hysterical.  The real winner of the movie is A Taste for Love, the Dracula puppet musical that Peter is shown working on throughout the movie.  The Jim Henson Creature shop supplied the puppets and Segel the lyrics, which must be heard to be believed.  In fact, Sarah Marshall almost received the coveted five star rating on the strength of the puppet scenes alone.    

Overall, this is a lighter movie than Knocked Up, but has wider appeal than Superbad.  Stoller does an impressive job of capturing the honeymoon tourist side of Hawaii, and exploring the dynamics of the service industry there.  Plenty of fun, more than a little bit of nudity, and the cast plays well off of each other.  However, the script does seem a little bloated with subplots, and if Segel had trimmed some flashbacks, and completely left out surfer dude Chuck (Paul Rudd), the pace would improve immeasurably.   


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