MOVIE REVIEW- Aloha-ha! ‘Marshall' plan shortchanges women
What guy hasn't gone to Hawaii to get over some girl who dumped him, only to find her staying at the same resort? That's why Judd Apatow movies are so successful– everyone can relate to them.Jason Segel, who also wrote the screenplay, stars in Forgetting Sarah Marshall as Peter Bretter, who somehow had the good luck to be hooked up with TV star (Crime Scene, co-starring William Baldwin) Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) for over five years. Peter writes the music– or rather, "dark, ominous tones"– for the show.
He doesn't realize it, but being arm candy for a diva was slowly emasculating him, and she wasn't happy with what he turned into either. Sarah finally calls it off, adding that she's already found someone to replace Peter.
Peter tries rebound sex but cries on his partner's shoulder afterward. His doctor (Steve Landesberg) advises him, "F*ck everything that moves." His married stepbrother (Bill Hader) suggests, "Take a vacation. Go to the Alps."
So Peter goes to Hawaii. No sense being cold as well as miserable. Sarah shows up with her new boyfriend, British rocker Aldous Snow (Russell Brand), before Peter can even check in. Rachael (Mila Kunis), the beautiful desk clerk, takes pity on him and comps him a suite. It's hard to tell how much of what she does afterward is motivated by pity because Segel, as is typical of Apatow and his writers, doesn't know much about women other than how they function sexually. They don't know much about mature men either, except that some of their man-boy characters will eventually evolve into them.
Even with Rachael's kindness, Peter's trip starts off badly. He's surrounded by loving couples, as Hawaii makes Paris look like a city of depressed loners. It's even "sea turtle f*cking season." But not everyone is as happy as they appear. Honeymooners Jack McBrayer and Maria Thayer are having sexual problems. The virginal husband is shocked to find that God "built a playground so close to a sewer system."
There's a lot of Heartbreak Kid-ding around along the way as Peter gets closer to Rachael (but is it just a resort romance?) and Sarah finds reasons to wonder if she made the right choice.
There are plenty of solid laughs ("Are those sad tissues or happy tissues?") in what boils down to little more than a feature-length, illustrated locker room conversation. Calling the main character Peter is only the first of many indications of the script's phallocentricity.
Segel isn't exactly a sympathetic hero. Peter feels so sorry for himself that he doesn't need our sympathy, and his crying scenes are no more appealing than his nude scenes, which few viewers are likely to find sexy.
Kunis makes a stronger impression than Bell, even if her character takes a couple of strange detours; so Peter's ultimate choice, if he has one, won't be difficult. Bell is barely up to the limited demands of the script when what's needed is someone who can fill in the outline of a woman Segel has created.
Brand, a young Rupert Everett type, has fun parodying the rock and roll lifestyle; and Apatow regulars Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd score as, respectively, a fawning waiter and space-case surfing instructor.
Perhaps to encourage repeat business or DVD sales, a lot of lines that follow big laughs are spoken very quietly, too many to be coincidental.
I'm one of the few critics who liked Drillbit Taylor, but the Apatow thing didn't work for me this time. I laughed too much to give Forgetting Sarah Marshall a totally negative review, but the fact that Richard Roeper practically orgasmed over it on television says more about Roeper than it does about the movie.