I don't agree with Richard Roeper, columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, that this is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. It's not as funny as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005), and in terms of how often I laughed, and out loud laughter from people around me, this certainly doesn't rank as high as last year's "Knocked Up."
Like those other two movies, this is another Judd Apatow production. I seem to really enjoy films that Apatow personally writes and directs. This one, like recent films, Apatow handed over to his friends. This script was inked by Jason Segal, star of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother."
Segal also stars in this romantic comedy as Peter, a music composer for a crime drama on TV, similar in style to "Law & Order" or "CSI." Peter is currently dating that TV show's star, a tiny blonde bombshell named Sarah Marshall, played by fellow TV actress, Kirsten Bell ("Veronica Mars" and "Heroes").
One day, Peter gets out of the shower and sees Sarah standing in his living room. From her posture and her delicate phrasing, it's apparent to Peter that she's about to break up with him. The reason we can guess but we won't learn the truth until the end.
What follows is a series of awkward and increasingly uncomfortable situations, which hinder Peter from moving beyond this broken relationship. He's a sweet, sensitive, loving guy who continues to dwell on thoughts of his ex-girlfriend.
Segal, who is reminiscent of Michael Rappoport, carries the film very well. That's despite the fact that during the first hour of this film his character is pathetic and annoying. In Apatow movies, this appears to be a theme, turning pathetic and sometimes annoying men into loveable creatures.
In these movies, a super hot, super sexy girl, from out of the blue, and for no apparent reason, falls in love or in bed with them. From Catherine Keener to Katherine Heigl, somehow these amazing and beautiful women manage to fall, rather inexplicably in love with these slubs or slackers. This time around, the female of interest is Mila Kunis ("That 70s Show" and "Family Guy").
Here, at least, Segal's character has some rather winsome traits in the beginning, as well as somewhat of a cool job, and charm beyond Apatow's usual freeks, geeks, and stoners.
Sadly, Segal's strong opening leads into a narrative that stalls for about an hour. We're introduced to a bunch of eccentric hotel characters like something out of a CBS sitcom, which add color, but nothing of substance to the story. They at most feel like filler. I love Paul Rudd, but his along with several other Hawaii residents and tourists, besides the main characters were completely unneeded, and quite frankly not that funny.
Segal and first-time feature director Nicholas Stoller pepper the movie with pretty ironic inserts and flashbacks here and there, which act like quick visual punchlines, but in all honesty, the film didn't get me laughing until Segal introduces us to his Dracula song, and until the rivalry and reverse jealousy begin.
Can I just say that I would nominate the song he sings for that Dracula sequence, as well as Russell Brand's performance as Aldous Snow, the horniest rock star on Earth, as early picks for Oscar's songs of the year?
Four Stars out of Five
Rated R for graphic nudity and language
Running Time: 1 hr. and 52 mins.