You've got to hand it to Judd Apatow and his company of coarse yet good-natured cutups: they aren't afraid to let it all hang out.
Yes, their by-any-means-necessary willingness to say or do whatever pops into their heads to get a laugh is admirable. But it's also their vulnerability, their full-frontal emotional exposure in showing they are not the men at large they so claim to be, that makes an Apatow production a cut above your standard, R-rated raunchfest.
"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" may be the most revealing Apatow-produced production thus far. For starters, the guy who wrote and stars in it, Jason Segel, spends the opening moments au naturel. Yes, you see little Jason and everything.
Unfortunately, that isn't the most humiliating thing that's happening to him at that moment. In the movie, his actress girlfriend (Kristen Bell), whose TV police procedural show he musically scores, is breaking up with him. Needless to say, this sends him into a depressing tailspin even a series of one-night stands can't knock him out of.
When his brother-in-law (Bill Hader) gives him the idea to get out of town and clear his head, our boy decides to head to Hawaii. But guess who made it there before he did, with her new rock-star beau (British comic Russell Brand), making sure his time in the islands will be an experience of even bigger agony than when he was home?
Ably but unspectacularly directed by first-timer Nicholas Stoller, the slyest thing about "Marshall," just as with every Apatow-produced film, is that its heart is in such the right place that it can get away with murder comedically. Of course, it's vulgar, crude and profane to the core, but it's such a sweet, sympathetic and all-too-painfully-familiar tale of heartache and woe (I swear, if one more dude rolls up on me telling me how much this movie is basically their life story ...) that you don't mind that it's about as smutty as a Millie Jackson album.
Of course, it helps that all of this naughtiness is acted out by such a cute, adorable cast. As our poor protagonist, Segel pulls off being a better heartbreak kid than Ben Stiller. He has the whole Judge Reinhold-hangdog look down so perfectly, you can't help but wonder if dude is Reinhold's son. Bell is a deceptive bit of sunshine, even managing to steal some audience sympathy in a couple of scenes as the not-so-villainous ex. A feisty and fetching Mila Kunis shines as a hotel concierge who starts to get our boy out of his funk. I even got a kick out Brand's Richard Ashcroft-esque rocker, a slithery stud-boy who actually turns out to be worthy of Bell's affection and Segel's respect. And of course, since this is an Apatow film, expect bit roles from Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd, who basically pop up and ad-lib lines your friends will be remembering for a long time.
Bottom line: there should be more romcoms like "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" out there. Romcoms that are willing to show themselves -- warts and all.