I did a quick check of Judd Apatow movies (both as a director and as a producer) over the last few years. Here's what it boils down to: ANCHORMAN, 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN? Loved 'em. SUPERBAD and WALK HARD? Liked 'em. TALLADEGA NIGHTS? Okay (thank God for John C. Reilly). KNOCKED UP? Sorry, I hated it. And having never seen an episode of How I Met Your Mother, Undeclared or Freaks and Geeks I had no opinion of Jason Segel. Well shame on me, because FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL may turn out to be my favorite of the bunch, thanks in no small part to a great script and performance by Segel.
The bones of the story may be a cliche from a hundred other movies - girl breaks up with boy, boys meets new girl, things get complicated - but Segel brings enough warmth and laughs to make it seems fresh. He's helped by an amazing cast, which is the true strength of any Apatow production. Every single cylinder fires. Kristen Bell, who in an alternate universe is still doing Veronica Mars and is coincidentally married to me in a polygamous relationship with my wife takes a huge left turn from her normal roles to play the title character, and it's to her credit that by the movie's end we see her in a different light, even if we're not rooting for her. I've never really liked Mila Kunis in anything I've seen her in. But here it's like someone replaced her with the HAWESOME version of Mila Kunis, because she is absolutely fall-in-lovable as the "new girl" Segel's character, well, falls in love with. Paul Rudd again proves he's the go-to guy in comedies, and Jonah Hill basically does what he does, and since it's used sparingly in SARAH MARSHALL it works fine.
Crap. I forgot to mention that that guy Kenneth from 30 Rock is in this. And he is frickin' hysterical.
I wish I could go into detail about all the other great roles played by the hotel staff, but then I wouldn't have room to talk about Jason Segel and his penis. Because that seems to be what everyone talks about when talking about this film. So I knew going in there was going to be full-frontal from a CBS sitcom star. And I still laughed out loud when it happens. Besides writing a pretty tight script, Segel's performance works on multiple levels, fleshing out (sorry) what might have been a paper performance in the hands of someone else. Yes we root for him to find ultimate happiness, but our perception of him also changes as the film runs, and maybe find he's partly to blame for the breakup.
All this plus Muppets and a rock and roll musical about Dracula. FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL was a crap-load of fun and a definite recommendation for anyone looking for a good comedy that doesn't involve Harold or Kumar (but does feature another member of How I Met Your Mother).