Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Glen Wilson/Universal Pictures

Review in a Hurry:  Congrats, Jason Segel, the latest lucky graduate of the Judd Apatow School of Movie Stardom. His concentration? Postadolescent Romantic Comedy, with a Minor in Lovable Leading Man. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is his thesis project, and it scores high on a major curve.

The Bigger Picture:  Segel cut his comedic teeth in the beloved Freaks and Geeks TV series with fellow Judd alum Seth Rogen. Sarah Marshall, Segel's first produced screenplay, is thick with the offbeat charm so prominent in producer Apatow's oeuvre.

This time around, instead of the lead character being a misguided lout—Rogen in Knocked Up, Jonah Hill in Superbad—Segel's Peter is too sensitive, and rather familiar with the fetal position. He works those pillow-cradling muscles after his hot TV-star girlfriend (Kristin Bell) breaks up with him for hirsute pop star lothario Aldous Snow (the exceptionally funny Russell Brand).

Peter jets off to Hawaii to recuperate, and of course, Sarah and Aldous are at the very same resort. Pete's forced to take the fast track to romantic recovery, with various characters to help him along the way, including familiar faces Hill, Paul Rudd, 30 Rock's Jack McBrayer and most intriguingly, pretty and pragmatic front-desk clerk Mila Kunis.

Some jokes grow stale fast. For example, Hill plays a maître d' who constantly fawns over Aldous, and it's just not funny. But most of the comedy sticks to the wall and then some. The combo of raunchy sex and good-natured romance works yet again in true Apatow fashion, and Segel's kind and naive take on Peter has a lot to do with that. He's just a nice guy—and even when he finds his backbone (and a lover or two), he doesn't lose respect for women. He's a postmacho hero for the grown-up (still growing up?) man.

The 180—a Second Opinion:  The movie throws a lot of slapstick and raunch at the screen from the get-go at a helter-skelter pace, and it feels forced. Not till Pete lands in Hawaii and starts hanging with a more laid-back crowd does the flick find its rhythm.
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