Wanderlust

Screen International, February 22, 2012 | Go to article overview

Wanderlust


Dir: David Wain. US. 2012. 98mins

Cultures clash - or, more accurately, lightly brush against one another - in Wanderlust, a mildly amusing let's-go-live-with-hippies comedy that never finds much inspiration from its mediocre premise. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are fitfully funny, but this R-rated laugher badly miscalculates exactly how hilarious nudists, hallucinogens and free love really are.

Rudd and Aniston each have their amusing moments coping with the commune's weirdness.

Wanderlust opens in the US on Friday, when it will benefit from being the only mainstream comedy in the marketplace. Aniston is coming off two straight $100-million domestic releases (Just Go With It and Horrible Bosses), and Rudd has proved to be a sturdy - if not exactly explosive - marquee name of late. But the assumption is that lacklustre reviews and word-of-mouth will dampen theatrical prospects, even if the film manages to lure some of the date-night crowd away from The Vow.

Directed by David Wain (who previously helmed Rudd in Role Models), Wanderlust introduces us to happily married New York couple George (Rudd) and Linda (Aniston). They've just purchased a pricey (but tiny) condo in a posh section of Manhattan, but they realise they can't afford it after his high-paying job is terminated. Rather than work for his obnoxious brother (co-writer Ken Marino) in Atlanta, George and Linda decide to spend some time in a rural commune that preaches a relaxed mindset that's the exact opposite of their frantic New York lives.

At first, Wanderlust promisingly recalls Albert Brooks' 1985 comedy classic Lost In America, in which an upwardly-mobile couple elect to drop out of the rat race, only to learn how ill-equipped they are to face such an existence. Unfortunately, Wanderlust doesn't do much to play up George and Linda's fast-paced New York life, which makes their decision to join the laidback commune uninteresting from a comedic perspective.

Instead, the filmmakers opt to base most of the humour on the oddballs within the commune, a choice that has diminishing returns when it becomes clear that there's no one in the group who's particularly outlandish or shocking in his or her hippie attitudes. …

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