Synopsis: Rattled by sudden unemployment, a Manhattan couple surveys alternative living options, ultimately deciding to experiment with living on a rural commune where free love rules.
Stars: Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda, Lauren Ambrose, Malin Akerman
Director: David Wain
Running Length: 98 minutes
Random Crew Highlight: First Greens – Sandi Cook
TMMM Score: (5.5/10)
Review: More than most comedies, your enjoyment of Wanderlust depends greatly on your sense of humor. That seems pretty elementary, right? Well the comedy on display in Wanderlust is a very specific blend that will not be for everyone. It’s good to have comedies that challenge their audiences but it’s also rare to find a comedy that knows when to hold back. Wanderlust succeeds at one and fails at the other.
The team that brought you Wet Hot American Summer and TV’s The State are back again with another irreverent look at modern life through the eyes of two yuppie wannabees. Rudd and Anniston have great chemistry (already on full display in their first outing a decade ago – The Object of My Affection) and both clearly are having a great time working off of eachother. Anniston has publically said that making this film was the most fun she’s ever had on a movie set – and it’s clear to see that on screen. Anniston seems very at ease though when she’s surrounded by a lot of comedians she tends to shrink a bit…a more commanding approach would suit her best. I’ve always been a fan of hers and feel that she’s almost to where she needs to be in the risk-taking category. Horrible Bosses was, largely, horrible but she was a revelation in it. She doesn’t so much take a step back here as she sort of walks in place. Here’s hoping she continues on this path.
Rudd continues his winning streak of memorable characters, though I found him a bit less appealing in this film than he has been in other recent work. What I love about his work is that he’s entirely brave about his comedy and doesn’t seem to be doing things just to crack himself up. Rudd delivers one of the single greatest funny bits of the last few years with a pep talk he gives to himself in a mirror. Even though it goes on way too long I was entirely forgiving because it was so unbelievably funny. How he did such a long take without laughing is something I’ll never understand.
The rest of the cast is made up of devotees of director Wain and co-writer Ken Marino (who also pops up as Rudd’s detestable brother in the one plotline that should have been totally cut) and all acquit themselves nicely. I’m sure making this film was akin to a visit to summer camp and that’s largely what the film starts to feel like: a summer camp for avant-garde comedians. The camera seems to just be turned on until they felt like stopping.
The overall theme of the movie is getting away from commercialism and finding that inner peace without distraction. It’s a concept that is growing in popularity and it’s handled fairly well here. There is a lot of raunchy humor and pile of non-sexual nudity. The laughs are there, no question, but the degree to which you guffaw might be dependent on the style of comedy. I, for one, began to grow a bit wary of the jokes that were beaten to death or the long-form improv that never really went anywhere. My mind began to, dare I say it, wander….