Posted on 3/08/12 09:51 AM
Wanderlust is the latest outing from David Wain, director of (the forgettable) Role Models. While some scenes fall flat, there are enough good laughs on show to make up for it. The combined chemistry of the lead stars, and the overall charm of the project means the film, while shaky, just about gets away with it. I left the cinema smiling, and that's always a good review.
Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston (both former Friends stars) play George and Linda, a pair of borderline yuppies living in a tiny "micro-loft" in New York. Linda, an aspiring filmmaker, pitches a depressing and nihilistic penguin documentary to HBO, but the project is rejected (It's more Werner Herzog than March of the Penguins). To make matters worse, the company for which George works goes under, leaving him out of a job. Newly-unemployed and unable to support themselves, they decide to stay with George's boorish, but more successful brother.
En route, they book into a quirky bohemian-styled guesthouse, and - low and behold - it turns out to be a hippie commune. Cue all manner of zany hijinks involving free love, wacky baccy, and placenta-related ickiness. Will there be a culture clash between the hippies and the yuppies? Will George and Linda leave the rat-race and embrace the chilled-out ethos? Can they save the commune from evil casino developers? None of the answers are surprising, but it's a pleasant journey nonetheless.
The cast make the most of it; the hippies on the commune are rag-bag bunch of colourful weirdos, and are played accordingly. Rudd and Aniston make a convincing couple; never falling into the old "he's a lazy slob/she's a nagging bitch" template like so many rom-coms. Instead of being an insensitive couch potato, George seems a fairly capable and supporting husband by the standards of the genre (although he's not above temptation). Linda, far from being the uptight, career-obsessed bossy-boots that is usually required in this sort of film, is actually unsure what she wants to do for a living, flitting between "callings". I found this dynamic to be a welcome break from some of the cookie-cutter screen couples of late.
Ultimately, it's a flawed but frequently amusing film with a few good chuckles on offer, some nice performances, and a generally warm and sweet atmosphere. It's no masterpiece, but I can excuse the occasional missteps. I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy it. It's a fun piece of fluff.
Dir: David Wain
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda
Running time: 98 mins.