Paul Rudd re-teams with his Role Models director David Wain in the zany, often hilarious Wanderlust, this time bringing Jennifer Aniston and an impressive supporting cast along for the ride. Riding high on the comedic talent of Rudd, the film avoids becoming a one-note comedy, adding life and laughter into the proceedings before it inevitably falters in the final act. Where it succeeds, Wanderlust never tries to be more than it is, but offers several laughs and highlights the clear talent the film has to offer.
Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star as George and Linda, a married couple living in New York City who are forced to move to Atlanta after George is fired from his depressing office job. On the way to Atlanta — where George has been offered a job by his jerk brother, Rick (Ken Marino) — they stumble upon a hippie commune called Elysium, an idyllic community filled with your typical variety of colorful, hippie characters and shenanigans. After crashing their car while attempting to drive away from a startled nudist, the couple are forced to spend the night at the commune and begin to discover this alternate lifestyle may, in fact, be right for them.
Helped immensely by an eclectic group of supporting characters, from the flat-out weird Seth (Justin Theroux), who also happens to be a bit of what I like to call “a tool,” and Joe (Joe Lo Truglio), a nudist winemaker and aspiring novelist, to the beautiful and eccentric Eva (Malin Akerman), who desires to “make love” to George in the name of free love, even Alan Alda makes an appearance as the elderly founder of Elysium. The list of supporting characters goes on and on, as they’re largely able to keep the comedic elements fresh and interesting, if not a bit odd.
Director David Wain infuses the film with his own brand of zany, raunchiness that never feels offensive or insincere, which is a rare combination to be sure. While the film lacks fluidity overall and suffers immensely in the final act, Paul Rudd and the wonky supporting characters are able to salvage what is at the heart of the film, as Rudd works comedic wonders, which seem worth the price of admission alone. Even Jennifer Aniston has moments of comedic clarity, particularly in a sequence where she unwittingly sips on a peyote-style tea and takes the phrase “I believe I can fly” to heart.
The first two-thirds of the film are serviceable from a story perspective, largely managing to competently bridge the gaps between the wonderfully zany and hilarious comedic moments, none of which feel dry or forced. It is in the third act, when the film faces the difficult task of wrapping up these stories and characters, that the film falters.These are issues that you’ll be willing to overlook to get to the comedic moments, where the film truly shines in all its odd, raunchy glory.
Thanks in large part to the wonderful comedic minds of Paul Rudd and David Wain, as well as several wonderful supporting characters, Wanderlust is able to rise above its faults to become a movie full of great moments. While it simply has too many issues from a storytelling perspective, the comedic moments and characters are able to rise this film to something greater than mediocrity.
Rated: R (for sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug use.)
Wanderlust opens nationwide February 24th.