Wanderlust Directed by: David Wain Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman Running Time: 1 hr 38 mins Rating: R Release Date: February 24, 2012
PLOT: A Manhattan couple (Rudd and Aniston) must move out of their newly purchased place. A random encounter on a commune convinces both of them to give the alternative lifestyle a chance.
WHO'S IT FOR? If you're a fan of Wain's other films (Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten) along with the comedy of Paul Rudd or "The State," this film is for you.
EXPECTATIONS: Aniston, hmm? That was my thought. Then I remembered The Switch. The concept was terrible, but Jason Bateman and Aniston weren't a bad team. I like Rudd, so I figured this pairing could work. Plus, I caught one second of the preview and saw Aniston in bed with Akerman. So there's that.
Paul Rudd as George: Rudd is the make or break of this movie. You already have an opinion of Rudd and this film will just make that stronger, it won't change it. George is ... Rudd. Linda describes George a little better in the film. She says he always makes sarcastic comments when confronted. He also gets nervous in very personal (sexual) situations. Rudd does his usual stuff here with beating jokes into the ground. I happen to like that. The difference here is, it didn't feel as fresh. Score: 8
Jennifer Aniston as Linda: George is always a little on edge with the commune living, even when he's enjoying himself. Linda tends to go back and forth, just like Aniston's eyes. Seriously, watch her eyes. Typically they jot back and forth when she's focusing on another actor. It's a little unsettling, and so is Linda. Just a little. She still doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. Her embrace of the extremes of commune living (and open love) is sudden. George ends up trying to win her back, but it should have been an equal pursuit. Score: 6
Justin Theroux as Seth: Seth is the Jesus (looking) figure of the commune. I found him hilarious, especially when he tries to convince George to give up the modern world by constantly bringing up out-dated '80s technology. As soon as Seth's focus turns to winning Linda over, the character and the comedy feel insanely stale. Score: 6
Malin Akerman as Eva: Insanely hot, willing to sleep with a married man, and not much else. I know for most of you that's enough, and I also know she's insanely hot. I just need more. Yup. I need personality. I'll be up here on my high road if you need me. Score: 4
Rest of Cast: Jordan Peele as Rodney is the perfect pot head. Lauren Ambrose as Almond is the perfect flower child. Alan Alda as Carvin is the (almost) perfect burned out hippie. Donald Sutherland would have been perfect. Plus, Joe Lo Truglio is always naked. Yes, we have a nudist. There is some real fun with this cast, especially when the Stella guys show up as news anchors. Score: 8
TALKING: Rudd runs jokes into the ground (in the good way), especially when he's starring at himself in the mirror, having a pre-game sex speech. It's classic Rudd and I have no problem saying that. The film's funniest parts typically come when it's a bunch of characters on screen at the same time and plenty of one-liners linger. Focus is not a strong point for Wanderlust though, so the story doesn't always feel tight. Score: 7
SIGHTS: They actually do a good job with the sets. The microloft (studio apartment) is comically small, yet believable. The sprawling Atlanta suburban house is grand, but not insanely extravagant. Most importantly, yup, it's a commune. Score: 7
SOUNDS: Music is mainly used as a joke here. Whether it's George and Linda singing on a road trip, or George attempting "Two Princes," humor is the point behind the music. I actually can't recall any songs not used as a joke. Score: 5
BEST SCENE: There's some slow-motion naked running, but most of that involves some senior citizens. The first night, when Linda wakes up, to join George at the party, there's a genuine feeling of comedy, warmth and relaxation. For just a little bit, you think commune living sounds like a pretty sweet deal.
ENDING: It's all over the place. It seems like they just attempt to squeeze in logic where it will fit. Outtakes show they were very loose with the script. Stay until the very end of the credits if you like Marissa (Michaela Watkins).
QUESTIONS: Why use such ordinary movie devices (finding the deed to the property, Seth trying to steal Linda and settle down), when the comedy of the lifestyle is the key to the film? More importantly, how can you have Aniston, Akerman and another woman in bed together during the preview and NOT have that scene in the film?
REWATCHABILITY: Absolutely. It even has a very slim chance to become just as funny as Wet Hot American Summer with multiple viewings.
In the beginning of Wanderlust a real-estate agent tries to sell George and Linda a studio, by calling it a microloft. She's trying to repackage. This film feels like repackaging, but luckily the cast and crew behind it absolutely know how to make you laugh. The easiest way to say it is Wet Hot American Summer meets I Love You, Man. But there's even old-school lazy elements like "If we don't find the deed, we'll lose the house!" It's like Wain and company don't care about the details, or don't care what you call it. Again, that's because they are confident you'll laugh.
If you are offended by adult (sex, drugs) humor, or if you don't like Rudd (how can you not?) then Wanderlust might be a struggle at times. It might even give you a couple of jealous thoughts with the idea of turning your back on modern society. The people behind Wanderlust don't really care about any deep thoughts on changing your lifestyle. Just laugh. That's the point, and Wanderlust does a pretty good job with that.
FINAL SCORE: 7/10