Like the two films I mention above outside of parenthesis, the plot of ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ is pretty much summed up in the title; a chap who’s going out with Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) is dumped by her, and spends the rest of the film trying to come to terms with it. The lead character, Peter, is played by Jason Segal – I’d not heard of him before, but if you’re a fan, you may be pleased to know there are several glimpses of his genitals in the film, which is all the more impressive or worrying given that he also wrote the screenplay.
Anyway, heartbroken Peter goes off to Hawaii to try to get over his emotional trauma, where he bumps into Sarah and her new beau, a rock star played by Russell Brand. Frankly, I like Brand – I find his standup different if often self-indulgent, and his weekly BBC Radio 2 podcast demonstrates an active mind, though I’m painfully aware that his tabloid reputation as someone who prowls the streets of London (and now Los Angeles) looking for women to sleep with does rather overshadow his body of work. That said, I don’t really think Brand is acting much in this film, though perhaps slightly surprisingly his character isn’t painted as some kind of out-and-out villain, which would be all too obvious in this sort of story.
Against a frankly beautiful background of beaches and ocean sunsets, Peter tries to get over Sarah, whilst inevitably bumping into her a lot, but also befriending a local woman called Rachel (played by Mila Kunis, who I know only as the voice of Meg on ‘Family Guy’). I think you can probably guess where it all goes now I’ve told you about her character, and yes, you’d be right. Nonetheless, the film’s pleasant enough, and there are some genuinely funny moments.
However, the film suffers from a problem common to both the Apatow-produced films which I’ve seen before; it’s appallingly loose in its structure, containing entire scenes and characters who could cheerfully be removed with no effect on the plot. The film runs at about 110 minutes, and it really doesn’t need to – the characters played by Paul Rudd and Jonah Hill really contribute nothing to the overall story. Because of this, the film felt slightly old somehow, as if from an era (the late 1970s or early 1980s, for example) when tightly sticking to the main plot and maybe a couple of sub-plots wasn’t seen as so important.
Don’t get me wrong, the film’s perfectly enjoyable, and whilst you’re in the cinema you’re unlikely to find yourself glancing at your watch, but it’s pretty forgettable; I have to admit that I was rather bewildered at the fuss surrounding ‘Knocked Up’, which I stopped watching after about 80 minutes and have yet to finish off (despite the reviews and people I know all claiming it was a non-stop laughterfest) and I wonder if people are likely to rate ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ similarly highly. And, in my ongoing attempts to either swim against the tide or be ahead of the crowd, I wanted to put my opinion on record.
So, it’s quite watchable and fun, but it’s not really worth a trip to the cinema to do so – you may as well wait until it comes out to rent. Though that does of course mean an increased risk of you stopping the film to go to the loo or make a cup of tea and not bothering to set it playing again.