I often go see advance screenings in my area, especially now that I must officially be on "the list" as I am constantly finding tickets in my work inbox. This was the second Apatow production I've seen in advance and just like "Superbad", this did not disappoint. At the same time, while many of the cast members may be recognizable, there seems to be something different about this installment than I've seen in the likes of "40 Year Old Virgin", "Superbad", or "Knocked Up".
For starters, there was a definite presence of the "TV actors on the big screen" theme here, but I am pleased to report that Jason Segel, Kristen Bell, and Mila Kunis take to movies like naturals. Like many Apatow productions, Segel penned the script and takes over as lead Peter Bretter, proving yet again that with this crew the writer is best suited for the leading role. Segel delivers a character we all know too well from our own personal experiences and never breaks role from the shocking beginning to appropriate ending. I even give Segel extra credit for not completely victimizing his character and pointing out apparent flaws on both ends of the ending relationship.
Kristen Bell plays Sarah Marshall, the iconic ex of the film, but her role sits on the back burner along with the truly hilarious Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) to make way for a leading role in Mila Kunis. From the beginning it is clear that her not-too-smart and shallow role of "That 70s Show" didn't follow her to "Forgetting"'s script. Kunis plays Racheal, a hospitality girl for the hotel that "Forgetting" takes place, and subsequently deals with Peter as he tries to get over Sarah Marshall. Her character is intelligent, charismatic, and appreciative of the good in people, a strong juxtaposition to the seemingly selfish starlet Sarah Marshall. Kunis owns the role with pride, even slipping in gestures and glances that didn't seem to initially be in the script. Hopefully this will open her up for more serious roles than "American Psycho 2" and the typecasting that often happens with TV actresses like her.
The star of the film, in my opinion, easily has to be Russell Brand, who plays the over-conscious over-sexed rock star Aldous Snow. Snow adds the necessary level of comedy that could have been missing from what is truly a tragic plot. About halfway in the film, I couldn't help but snicker to myself just with the presence that Brand creates (complete with perfect costume choices). The only downfall to a character who is truly the Mercutio of this tragedy is that Brand clearly overshadows Bell's performance as Sarah Marshall, who is ironically the most forgettable character of the film.
The writing flows with well-timed jokes, apathetic digs, and shocking vulgar humor. There is even a few moments where you feel Segel was digging on the cast with jokes involving crime dramas (Segel did time on "CSI") and TV actresses in horrible horror movies (Kunis did the atrocious "American Psycho 2"); not sure if it was intentional, but I caught what I thought was a reference. Just as with most Apatow productions, leave the kids at home. Unlike the rest, however, the crude humor doesn't overflow and turn off most audiences (like I noticed with "Superbad"). It also doesn't get very heavy in the least (which is what I felt hurt "Knocked Up"). I think Apatow has found a great balance with this production and Segel's script. I also want to give credit to Nicholas Stoller , who proved that he can be successful as a director after the hit he took from helping write "Fun with Dick and Jane".
All in all, this comedy is just another example of a good time for adults. It keeps a consistently flowing script, unlike many recent comedies that seem to lose pace as they close the story. While crude, the jokes are just light enough to appease most adult audiences and the short 100 minute run time will ensure you won't be glancing at your watch waiting for it to end, just laughing hysterically.