LAURIE COKER'S REVIEW
Wanderlust, by definition is one’s strong desire to travel, to explore the world outside of the normal and while Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd’s characters do wander outside their norm, they hardly do it through desire for travel. Regardless, their new film, ‘Wanderlust,’ places them in some riotously funny and at times raunchy situations and I had a wonderful time watching. Director and co-writer (along with Ken Marino, who also stars in the film) David Wain takes full advantage of their impressively hilarious cast, and even when it dives into utter trashiness, and at times, totally trite twists in the tale, I found it a delightfully entertaining film.
George (Rudd), a corporate type, who hates his job, and his pretty wife, Linda (Aniston), whose latest flight-of-fancy employment endeavor crashes and burns, give up renting and buy a matchbox-sized (micro-loft) in NY’s West End, only to find out George’s company is under investigation by the FBI and its doors close. Nearly penniless, George and Linda pile their belongings into their tattered Honda and head to Atlanta, to live with George’s foul-mouthed, obnoxious older brother Rick (Marino), who made it big in the porta-potty rental business.
On the way, after hours of driving, they seek refuge in a bed and breakfast called Elysium, where they meet a band of hippy-types who live together in an “integrated community”/commune. The place preaches peace and free love and hallucinogens (all natural, of course) and its eclectic offerings are charming enough to persuade a pair of Blackberry addicted, city folk like George and Linda, especially after a couple of nights under the roof of his brother and his boozing (and super funny) wife (Michaela Watkins), to give the free-life a try. Their new house mates, an inter-racial couple (Lauren Ambrose and Jordan Peele), a quirky bubble-brained single mom (Kerri Kenny), a nudist (Joe Lo Truglio), a former porn actress (a truly riotous Kathryn Hahn), a super sexy fellow and former New Yorker (pretty and perfect Malin Akerman) and the most charismatic member of the clan, leader Seth, played with ridiculous zest by Justin Theroux give them rap-sessions, no doors or boundaries, truth-telling meetings and opportunities for no-strings-attached intercourse of various kinds.
‘Wanderlust’ is Rudd’s vehicle and Aniston plays wonderfully at his side. It is indeed an all-star comedic cast and even its descents into toilet humor (some actually taking place on or around the toilet) had me laughing in spite of myself. Theroux makes for the quintessential brain-fried leader, who still thinks Walk-Mans, two-way pagers and VCRs make up current high-tech gadgets and that $11,000 is a great deal of cash. A small part by Alan Alda, as the original Elysium founder plays out pleasingly, and it is his character Carvin that holds the deed to the farm, offering the story its silly subplot about a big corporation trying to buy out Elysium to build a casino, which at one point has Linda running topless (with others) in front of a television camera. In another enjoyable, although quite brief cameo, Linda Lavin, plays the real estate agent who sells George and Linda their tiny, tiny apartment and she, too, garners laughs.
Again, it is Rudd who shines in this – he manages to perfectly play off every character he meets with witty, tantalizing ease. Even when Wain and Marino’s script turns raunchy and boy, it sure does turn, Rudd and Aniston too, for that matter, make a decent from normal into wacky, believable utterly pleasing and wholly hilarious. I have questioned some of Aniston’s recent film choices, but with ‘Wanderlust, she seems completely comfortable and in her element. While I am still talking cast, I simply have to brag on Michaela Watkins, whose droll, under -breath one-liners regarding her dull, desperate-housewife-of-Atlanta life and her cheating, jackass of a husband, steal every scene in which she appears. She says something like – I read somewhere that if you smile all the time, you can convince your brain you are happy - and sarcasm and wit ooze from her entire persona, even though she says it during a Skype call.
Typically, I turn my nose up at a film which digresses unabashedly into raunchiness and the over use of the F-bomb, but Wain and his exceptional cast had me from the opening scene. I am placing an A in my grade book. I could not recommend this film to everyone, but for those who appreciate this sort of venture, I say, grab a friend (not your mother) and pay full price and stay for the outtakes at the end.
ELIZABETH LOPEZ' REVIEW
From all the trailers that have been shown on television to date for ‘Wanderlust,’ it is very obvious there is plenty of nudity in the film because the story contains a clothing optional community. I know that. What I did not expect to see so much of was the full frontal nudity on a few occasions. I must have lost track of the time, but full frontal scenes of men and women garnered a stronger rating than an R, but in 2012 this film is rated R by the MPAA for sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug use.
‘Wanderlust’ is directed by David Wain, who co-wrote the script with Ken Marino, both of which produced alongside Judd Apatow and Paul Rudd. Wain directed ‘Role Models’ (2008) that starred Paul Rudd, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Kerri Kenney-Silver and all return to work with Wain on the ‘Wanderlust’ production. Richard Vane is the Executive Producer for this raunchy comedy that follows a couple who leave New York after their losses. Not having a job and income can make people act and think in different ways as never before in their lifetime.
George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) hit hard times in Manhattan shortly after purchasing a studio loft from a realtor, Shari (Linda Lavin). No longer able to pay their mortgage or other needs, they hit the road to Atlanta to stay with George’s brother Rick (Ken Marino) and sister in law, Marissa (Michaela Watkins). The scenes with Rick have been relayed several times in trailers, but I really enjoyed the lines given to veteran actor Lavin, TV star from the ‘Alice’ series. She can deliver comedic lines well!
George and Linda have a hard time adjusting to their new life in Atlanta, especially after their overnight stay at the Elysium community, founded by Carvin (Alan Alda) and many friends in the early 1970s. Over the last four decades, Carvin has a vast array of characters stay and embrace the lifestyle of few rules, including share everything and shed the clothes if you want.
To escape Rick’s rants and Marissa’s unhappiness in their marriage despite all the expensive trappings, stressed out George and Linda return to join the Elysium community for a couple of weeks. Seth (Justin Theroux) and Eva (Malin Akerman) are ready to share George and Linda, but the new couple is apprehensive at first. One of the funniest scenes I enjoyed in this film is Paul Rudd talking to himself in the mirror as he is about to take a giant step forward in his life with Eva. I am amazed at the range of things Rudd said and does, so for that few minutes, I was rolling in my chair with laughter. I wish I could say that about the whole film, but no.
Some of the other characters at the Elysium community include Karen (Kathryn Hahn), Almond (Lauren Ambrose), Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio), Kathy (Kerri Kenney-Silver) and many others who have let time pass them by. They are certainly not ready for developers to come through and take over the property they have helped Carvin care for and maintain so many years. Seth shows his true colors about the community after he thinks he has won over Linda’s heart and soul. As for this romantic comedy, it is predictable and it ends with George and Linda resolving their differences and sudden money and success lands in their lap. Happy endings are fine, but this is old and tasteless overall.
MARK SALDANA'S REVIEW
RATING: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
David Wain, comedian, writer, actor, director and founding member of the comedy trio ‘Stella’ whose previous directorial credits include WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER and ROLE MODELS, returns to the big screen with another offbeat and irreverent comedy which will probably garner both praise and condemnation, depending on one’s comedic taste. Prior to screening the film, the trailers and promos for the movie did not impress me at all. However, I have to say that I found enough of the comedy in the film amusing to give it a favorable rating. As with much of ‘Stella’s’ brand of comedy, there is much hilarity to enjoy, along with some cringe-worthy material, irritatingly unfunny gags, and the obligatory attempts at shock. While the movie’s anorexic thin plot offers audiences nothing strikingly new, the comedy and the top performances of the great cast are reason enough to give this film a viewing.
Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd play couple Linda and George. Struggling with their respective careers and barely making a living for themselves in Manhattan, they are unexpectedly uprooted and forced to leave New York to move in with George’s obnoxious brother Rick (Ken Marino) and his unhappy sister-in-law Marissa (Michaela Watkins) in Georgia. On their way to Rick’s home, Linda and George stumble upon a hippie commune/bed and breakfast where they discover a relaxing, peaceful, and inviting lifestyle departure from the hustle and bustle to which they have grown accustomed. The commune’s leader Seth (Justin Theroux) and his “family” offer them a life of freedom from the stresses and trappings of life into which most people fall. After spending a few days living and working with his brother Rick, George talks Linda into moving to the commune on a two-week long trial.
As I stated above the story and plot of this comedy is pretty thin and lacks meat. It simply has the basic structure to set up the crazy comedic gags and scenarios which mainly lampoon the hippie lifestyle. Written by Wain and Ken Marino, the script has some expertly written comedy, which I’m sure left plenty of room for the actors to stretch their improvisational chops. The plot lacks very little conflict and ends fairly predictably. Even a subplot involving an attempt by a corporation to take the land from the commune does little to add to the story. Of course audiences desiring to see this movie probably will expect this. Obviously, it isn’t a movie to take too seriously, but to enjoy for laughs and grins. Most of the humor does work, or at least it does for me. The movie does have some duds and some gratingly irritating moments, (mostly, courtesy of Marino’s character Rick). Nevertheless, I enjoyed enough of the craziness and irreverence and the talented cast delivers.
As usual Paul Rudd brings his awkward stylings to his role as George. He has a talent for playing fish-out-of-water roles and does so hilariously here. I really enjoyed Justin Theroux as the hippie leader/shaman Seth. I don’t think he gets enough top roles in films and rightfully deserves it. He has the charisma and presence to pull off leads in movies, both drama and comedy. Here, he displays excellent comedic timing. I had hoped to see Aniston do more comically in the film; however, she mostly plays it straight. It works fine, but it also makes me think that any adequate leading actress could have played her character. Movie and television veteran Alan Alda also stars as the commune founder Carvin. He performs well as the burnt out “lion” of the den. The film also features some great performances and appearances by Malin Akerman (Eva), Joe Lo Truglio (Wayne), Kathryn Hahn (Karen), Kerrin Keaney (Kathryn), Lauren Ambrose (Almond) and Jordan Peele (Rodney).
I can only recommend this movie to fans of the comedy trio ‘Stella’, or of other films by David Wain. In fact the entire trio, Wain, Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black make some hilarious cameos in the film. The humor has a mix of shock, parody, ineptitude, and the surreal. The film does contain very strong language and nudity (sometimes full-frontal), so if easily offended by these elements, it would be best to stay away. Also, keep this in mind before deciding on bringing the children along. For those interested in this movie and can handle the irreverence, I recommend catching it at a matinee or waiting for a rental. While enjoyable, it probably isn’t worth the full price of admission.