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'Forgetting Sarah Marshall'

With pratfalls, yucks, a crying jag, and what is starting to seem like the requisite flash of nudity, Jason Segel becomes this year's adorably hapless movie schlub.

Segel was an early Freak (as opposed to a Geek) in Judd Apatow's unofficial rep company, and in penning a starring vehicle for himself, he's hewn closely to the formula of bawdy sweetness and cuddly raunch that worked for his Knocked Up/Superbad/Virgin antecedents.

This time, the story centers on a bad breakup made worse: Segel's TV composer, the dumpee, has fled to a Hawaiian hotel to recuperate, only to find that the dumper (Kristen Bell's TV-star title character) and her new rock-star lover (Russell Brand) have picked the same spot. Mortification ensues. Happily, there's a pretty hotel receptionist (Rachel Jansen) to take pity on Segel, and a few random Apatovians (surfing instructor Paul Rudd, songwriting waiter Jonah Hill) to help with the comic heavy lifting.

First-time director Nicholas Stoller doesn't do anything particularly creative with the formula, but he keeps Segel zipping brightly from one humiliation to the next. And the star remains engaging even during the last half-hour, when the film's bubbly premise starts to go a little flat.

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Bob Mondello, who jokes that he was a jinx at the beginning of his critical career — hired to write for every small paper that ever folded in Washington, just as it was about to collapse — saw that jinx broken in 1984 when he came to NPR.