Someday, raunchy-romantic comedies by Judd Apatow and his jiggly man-boy cohorts will probably get old. But not right now. Not when Jason Segel goes full-frontal—twice—in the first 10 minutes of the breezy, easy Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and then the movie turns out to be equal parts sweet and bawdy. Segel (TV’s How I Met Your Mother and Apatow’s Knocked Up), who wrote the screenplay, plays Peter Bretter, world-class slacker and composer of music for the CSI-like show his actress girlfriend (Heroes’ Kristen Bell) works on. When she dumps him for a willowy Brih-ish pop star Aldous Snow (pitch-perfect newcomer Russell Brand), he takes a solo vacation to a resort in Hawaii, where Sarah and her horndog new man have shacked up.
What follow are not so much plot-driving scenes as set-pieces that keeps the laughs coming steadily as Peter interacts with hotel workers and guests who more or less help get him back on his feet. They include Apatow regulars Paul Rudd (as a surfing instructor with apparent early-onset Alzheimer’s) and Superbad’s Jonah Hill (as a wanna-be musician who brown-noses Aldous), and Mila Kunis as Peter’s new love interest. Extra props also go to Bell and Brand for making two characters that were essentially unlikeable unexpected dimension and depth. Directed by first-timer Nick Stoller, not every joke in Forgetting Sarah Marshall works—in fact, more than one scene is not as developed as it should be. But producer Apatow and his posse’s past work has built up a lot of goodwill: It’s like watching, say SNL, or the now-defunct Dave Chappelle Show. The audience is OK with indulging the occasional bad instinct while watching a performers that you’re invested in and, in this case, a movie that is on balance, very funny.