Hollywood Product - Forgetting Sarah Marshall
GENRE: Rude rom-com
THE PITCH: When TV star Sarah Marshall (Kristen "Veronica Mars" Bell) dumps her longtime boyfriend Peter (Jason Segel), he tries to forget his heartbreak at a Hawaiian resort — only to find Sarah already there with her new lover, fatuous rocker Aldous Snow (the scene-stealing Russell Brand).
MONEY SHOTS: Aldous touches strangers in one hilarious music video and bends in preposterous positions while serenading Sarah at a luau. Rival couples in adjacent bedrooms compete to see who can moan more loudly during sex. Funny montages feature Peter's disastrous one-night stands and spending a week in sweat pants. Segel's constant blubbering and his deer-in-the-headlights look find frequent laughs.
BEST LINE: "I like her hair. I wonder if the carpet matches the pubes?" ponders Paul Rudd's sun-baked surf instructor. The film features plenty of filthy one-liners that are quotable but not "work safe."
FLESH FACTOR: When Sarah breaks up with Peter, he drops his bath towel in shock, revealing his junk in a recurring, off-putting punch line. A men's room wall features snapshots of topless chicks and becomes a plot point in Peter's romance with a resort employee (Mila Kunis). The film's occasional sex scenes feature strategically concealed nudity, and Bell's va-va-voom bikini is positively modest by comparison.
FASHION STATEMENTS: The film offers a kind of primer as to what's cool to wear in Hawaii. Actual Hawaiian shirts invite ridicule, but Cuban shirts are more acceptable. Aldous opts for mesh.
FUTURE MUSIC DOWNLOADS: Aldous' inappropriate love song "Inside You" will be a viral hit. More masochistic listeners will like Peter's Dracula love ballad. Daniel Ho's Hawaiian version of "Nothing Compares 2 U" could be popular without irony.
SIX DEGREES OF APATOW: Segel, who stars and wrote the script, has been part of Apatow's ensemble since the show "Freaks & Geeks." First-time director Nicholas Stoller helmed episodes of the Apatow-produced "Undeclared." Superbad's Jonah Hill plays a star-struck waiter who stalks Aldous.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: The film uses "Access Hollywood" to show scenes from Sarah's "CSI" rip-off series in the same way Knocked Up featured E! shows to establish the Hollywood setting.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Forgetting Sarah Marshall isn't as smart as The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up or Superbad, and won't change the minds of audiences who see sexism in Apatow's male-centered stories. It's still amusing and charming enough, in its sloppy, drawn-out way, to belong in the company of Apatow's hits. By the end of the year, though, you may have trouble remembering Sarah Marshall. 3 stars.