A big flaw with the movie is that it injects a lot of traditional Hollywood moments and elements in the film when there's absolutely no need for them. Reading the brief synopsis above you're probably wondering "Why do they throw in a plot about losing the land in there?" There's already plenty going on in the film without this, but for unexplainable reasons this cliché, and several others find themselves a new home in the film. George and Linda are already having plenty of problems not only adjusting to the new location but there's a wedge being driven between the two of them by the fact that George lost his job and Linda hasn't been carrying her weight when it comes to the couple's finances. You've got some good drama here, particularly when the characters really get settled in the commune and they find out that there are some aspects of their new-found life that the two of them really disagree upon. On top of that, you've got a nice selection of genuinely funny characters, with the owner of Elysium, Carvin (Alan Alda) always wandering around not knowing what he is doing and rarely making any sense, the nudist (Joe Lo Truglio as Wayne) who cheerfully shows up at the wrong time constantly, George's sister-in-law Marisa (Michaela Watkins) who's very dense and barely seems to know what's going on half of the time and a lot of others (my favourite being the woman who is married to the black guy and takes every opportunity to remind everyone that they're a mixed race couple). You're happily treading along these stories when the plot where the commune is threatened slaps you in the face out of nowhere. I have a theory that this development, is only inserted because the writers had no idea how to end the movie. "I know! What if they beat the bad guy! That's a great way to end the movie! Oh wait, that means we have to write in a villain somewhere... oh well, who cares if it doesn't make any sense and doesn't fit the rest of the movie at all?"
There are a few flaws throughout the film that could have been forgiven if it wasn't for the downright awful ending. Several plot elements go nowhere, like some mysoginist news anchors that appear once the "losing the land" plot point comes in and are quickly dropped and some contrived dramatic moments between our leads. If you aren't convinced that the "big conflict" in the film is completely shoehorned in and belongs in a totally different movie, you try and convince me that the whole thing couldn't have been avoided or resolved within five minutes if that one character who speaks up towards the end of the film hadn't done so right away instead of reading the script and figuring out when he needed to say something for the plot to play out as it does ultimately. To the movie's credit, there's a lot of nudity and some good moments of improvised comedy. There us a big payoff to the nudist character that really had me laughing.
Ultimately, "Wanderlust" is just ok. There are some good moments to it that are quite nice, but they don't quite offset the bad stuff. The movie ends up being not particularly memorable. It's the kind of comedy you rent if you saw the trailer and you thought it looked alright and you've already seen every other comedy that's been released this year. (On Dvd, July 2013)
(Full review coming soon)