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.
Now, a lot of the comedy in Wanderlust is broad, obvious and in the vein of "Look how wacky these hippies are!" It's still pretty damn funny and some of it's a good deal smarter than that. The opening scenes, which are almost like an extended montage, of George and Linda's life in New York do a great job of elevating, mocking and then crushing their dreams. And the gamut of emotions the couple run through on their regretful drive down to Atlanta quickly builds a level of depth into their relationship and makes their audience more invested in what happens to them. Nothing after that is as well written, but there are plenty of good jokes and absurd moments.
It does seem like they got 3/4ths of the way through Wanderlust and only then realized they didn't have ending to story, so the Almighty Plot Hammer is brought to bear and an avalanche of nudity is used to cover for the character development that's skipped over. By that point, though, you'll probably have enjoyed the movie enough not to care and everything will get wrapped up fast enough not to bother you. Aniston, Rudd and Theroux are splendid and the rest of the cast, especially Alan Alda, are charming enough in their one-note roles. Co-writer/director David Wain also shows a fine hand. There's plenty of comedy in Wanderlust and from the briefest lines to more extended gags, he gives it all the right amount of time, space and rhythm. This isn't a great film but it's pretty good, even if you think you've had your fill of R-rated comedies.
Not so great. Yes, there were a couple good laughs to be had during this movie. But for the most part, it was just weird. Even some of the funny scenes went on too long and got to be awkward. The story was predictable. The jokes were not, because they were so outlandish that they came across as gimmicky. Not that a movie like this requires great acting skills, but the roles played by Rudd, Aniston and Watkins are at least believable. But the credibility stops there. Most of the other characters are over-acted, and poorly-developed. Please note that this is not a movie for children. You get shown a man in full nudity, both front and back, in the first 10 minutes of the film and other adult situations and visuals throughout.
George (Rudd) and Linda (Aniston) are an overextended, stressed out Manhattan couple. After George is downsized out of his job, they find themselves with only one option: to move in with George's awful brother in Atlanta. On the way there, George and Linda stumble upon Elysium, an idyllic community populated by colorful characters who embrace a different way of looking at things. Money? It can't buy happiness. Careers? Who needs them? Clothes? Only if you want them. Is Elysium the fresh start George and Linda need? Or will the change of perspective cause more problems than it solves?
Enter George and Linda, a young couple whom after a spat of financial problems, end up getting a taste of the bucolic at Elysium commune. Part of a recent trend of films that lovingly plays with the idea of ditching the hustle & bustle of daily life, Wanderlust shows our stars being lured into the idea of a lifestyle free from grueling work schedules, lattes, I-Phones, & of course...Nintendo power gloves. In essence, they are surrogates for a movie going audience still reeling from a financial meltdown, throwing caution to the wind and emancipating themselves from being a slave to the grind.
George & Linda, played well by the always charming Paul Rudd & the seldom charming Jennifer Anniston, have a surprising amount of chemistry and one cannot help but be empathetic toward their interesting, albeit comical, plight. However, while Wain and co-writer Ken Marino serve up some hearty laughs along the way, one can not help but wish they worked out the kinks in the story a bit more.
While narratively I understand needing things to get to a breaking point in order for the story to move into it's final act, the conflict felt awkwardly contrived and distanced the audience from an otherwise understandable and lovable couple.
Also, while I love tight editing, this film is so streamlined that the audience is rushed at light-speed through gag after gag. By the time the credits rolled, I found myself saying, "I know I laughed, but what happened?"
It isn't all bad. Wain & Marino dish up loads of their signature witty & irreverent humor. On top of this there are some great cameos by other veterans of The State & Alan Alda is absolutely hysterical. Whether he is acting or actually living in some sort of senile reverie, I want nothing more than to grab a beer with that man.
All in all, a step back for one of my favorite comedy directors working today, but not an entire waste of celluloid.