Forgetting Sarah Marshall – out now

After the successful fusion of uninhibited bawdiness and showbiz satire in The 40 Year Old Virgin and pregnancy-centric rom-com Knocked Up, current chieftain of Hollywood comedy Judd Apatow looks to have scored another hit with Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Once again he takes a situation that really shouldn’t be funny – in this case the break-down of a long-term relationship – and sucks from it every last drop of laughs.

When Peter Bretter (Jason Segel), a genial underachiever who composes incidental music for American TV shows, is dumped by his beautiful actress girlfriend, Sarah Marhall (Kristen Bell), he is devastated. Standing stark naked in his kitchen and weeping buckets, he begs her to stay, but to no avail – her success has outstripped his and she has bigger fish to fry. He seeks solace in one-night stands but is haunted by Sarah’s memory. Tired of womanising, he takes advice from his step-brother Brian (Bill Hader) and escapes to Hawaii, only to discover that Sarah and her rock star boyfriend Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) are staying in the same hotel. The set up is textbook farce. Fortunately, help is at hand in the form of Rachel (Mila Kunis), the pretty hotel receptionist with whom Peter strikes up a relationship.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is classic Apatow to the letter, replete with all the embarrassment and cringeworthy moments we’ve come to expect. The script was written and rewritten over a period of 18 months, meaning the film lacks direction in places. However, it gets back on track as the two couples become more competitive, one of the most memorable scenes being an orgasm-off on either side of a thin hotel wall.

The four leads are fantastic, and Brand really steals the show as the Evil Rival Boyfriend, as sex-obsessed and narcissistic as his real-life persona. Apatow regulars Jonah Hill, Bill Hader and, most memorably, Paul Rudd as a drug-fuelled surfing instructor give excellent supporting roles.

Though fuzzy in places, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is a delightful romantic comedy with some side-splitting moments and its four leads deliver a superb performance. Recommended.

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