Director David Wain (Role Models) re-teams with star Paul Rudd for Wanderlust, a wacky little comedy that’s not exactly laugh-out-loud funny, but it does bring plenty of laughter and warmth. Jennifer Aniston is one of the many co-stars that help make the films special charm work. Wanderlust is a light comedy that features a great cast, but it’s the brand of humor that makes the film work in its own little world just fine, but at the same time I can’t see myself revisiting the film anytime soon. It’s more like Rudd’s recent Our Idiot Brother than Role Models.
George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are a young couple living in Manhattan. They make the choice to move into an expensive studio apartment, despite better judgment. They take the big leap, hoping that their jobs blossom and bring them more happiness, but none of that happens. As a matter of fact George loses his job after the company he works for suddenly shuts down and Linda’s documentary that she worked countless hours on doesn’t get picked up by HBO.
Given the current house market they’re not able to get anything for the newly bought (and extremely small) space. Luckily for them George’s brother Rick (Ken Marino) is a successful businessman and he offers them a place to stay and employment for George. Desperate for money and the need to figure their lives out, George and Linda pack up and head to Rick’s.
Along the way they stop at a rural commune. They initially stay the night, but they soon realize after spending hours with Rick and his unhappy wife that the commune is exactly what they need. After all, what’s the worst that can happen after two weeks on a peaceful commune that preaches free love?
George almost instantly misses their old life, but at the same time he loves watching Linda be happy. He attempts to ease out of the situation, but trouble quickly brews. Linda wants to stay and figure out her future while George wants to leave and go back to the way things used to be.
I know what you’re going to ask and let me answer it right away; yes, Wanderlust is as weird as it sounds. It’s a fish-out-of-water comedy that oddly enough works because of its ensemble cast. Paul Rudd continues to bring his sarcastic and innocent approach to the role of George, while Jennifer Aniston plays it more straight-forward as Linda. The two have chemistry, but it’s a work-in-progress. George and Linda love each other, but they too often choose not to express their feelings with each other, which leads for a mid-film breakdown that’s more-or-less there to service the story and give it some more direct purpose.
David Wain casts familiars from his past films like Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio in addition to Malin Akerman, Justin Theroux and Alan Alda. Marino gets a lot of the early laughs in his brief appearances and Joe Lo Truglio has no problems getting the dick jokes to stick, especially being that he’s nude for the entire film, but the star here is Justin Theroux. I barely recognized him as the bearded peace hippie. He completely loses himself in the role and Wain cleverly takes advantage of that. The best lines from Theroux aren’t the most obvious ones; there the ongoing ones that he keeps bringing up in the background time and time again.
Wanderlust is a very particular type of comedy. The jokes aren’t as simple and digestible as a film like Role Models. Wanderlust is a quirkier film that makes good use of just how weird the whole concept is. The jokes will make you laugh, sometimes really hard, but they’re the kind of stuff that you laugh at once and then maybe somewhere down the road on home video. There’s not a lot of instant replay value or repeating memorable jokes. It’s a good effort by Wain, Rudd and basically the entire cast (Aniston isn’t nearly as funny as her role in Horrible Bosses), but the films relaxed direction hurts the effectiveness of the comedy.
If something like Our Idiot Brother clicked with you and didn’t feel like a big, stupid waste of time, then chances are high that you’ll enjoy Wanderlust on some level. I chuckled on more than one occasion and I laughed hard at least twice, but leaving the theater I had a mixed feeling takeover. Disappointed isn’t the word I’m looking for because the film met my expectations, but the film didn’t make a big enough impact for me to instantly start telling all of my friends about it. I’d cautiously recommend it to die-hard Paul Rudd fans like myself, but I emphasize the word cautiously. You also have to factor in your stance on full-frontal male nudity and lots of it. Joe Lo Truglio might be able to give Michael Fassbender a run for his money.
Wanderlust – 7.5/10