Movie Review– Wanderlust
Hippies! Yuppies! Stupidity! Greed! All extremes of the sociopolitical spectrum get a good bashing in Wanderlust, the uneven latest effort from David Wain, director of the classic Wet Hot American Summer, and member of comedy troupe Stella. But the movie gets clunky when trying to make it’s arguments against both empty materialism and unthinking hedonism; the best scenes are when the stellar cast is left alone to be itself, (perhaps not) coincidentally reinforcing the true meaning of the movie.
In the film, George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are a familiar New York couple of a certain type: George works at some undefined, but high-paying position, while Linda explores everything from pottery to documentary filmmaking. When George gets fired, they head to Atlanta to live with his obnoxious but rich brother– but on the way, they get detoured at a hippie commune (excuse me, “intentional community”). At first, George loves it, but then Linda drinks the Kool-Aid, and soon, they must decide if they both want the same things anymore.
As I said, the cast is pretty universally awesome. Rudd and Aniston have great chemistry. Rudd, who is definitely the focus of the film, rides his awkward/handsome/nice guy character to another solid comedic performance, with a panic-inducing attempt at dirty talk that is certain to go down in Apatow-esque film history. Justin Theroux reinterprets the”evil” cult leader as a well-meaning and adept free spirit who actually believes his own craziness; and Malin Akermann makes even the filthiest suggestions sound sweet.
The commune dwellers are chock full of stellar character actors who each get a standout moment or two, including: Alan Alda, as the acid-fried but loving founder; Joe Lo Truglio as an affable nudist winemaker/novelist; Lauren Ambrose as a pregnant pixie with one of the best acted/most demented birth scenes I’ve ever seen; and Kathryn Hahn, who steals every scene she’s in as the community’s most militant and sex-starved member. I could keep going, but suffice it to say that every character in the film gets a few laughs no matter how briefly they are on screen.
Unfortunately, the ample talents of this cast are often overshadowed by some truly misanthropic moments and characters, slowing down the film and dragging it into morality play territory. Oh yeah, and there’s way too many naked people for jokes that aren’t that funny. But there’s just enough anarchic fun to keep the audience throughout.
Did you see Wanderlust? What did you think?