Wanderlust

Two recently unemployed New Yorkers fed up with the rat race, decide to throw it all to the wind and embrace living in a hippie commune. Wanderlust starts out really well. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are George and Linda, two yuppie types that play uptight really well. They embody a perfect combination: likable but still fussy enough that we can still take delight when bad things happen to them. Before Linda’s depressing documentary about wildlife is rejected by HBO, she pitches it as An Inconvenient Truth meets March of the Penguins.  That’s clever – and part of a brilliant beginning. After losing their jobs they hightail it to George’s brother’s house to stay at while they get their bearings. On the way they spend the night in a rural “intentional community” and they’re embraced by the society within. Up until now, the comedy has a relaxed vibe with some fairly amusing shenanigans concerning hippies and the countercultural lifestyle. George’s brother turns out to be a real jerk so they decide to return to the collective they remembered so fondly. Predictably, things don’t go as smoothly as before. Here’s where the script loses momentum.

Instead of a fully formed storyline proceeding to a satisfying conclusion, we get one dubious skit after another, none of which are particularly funny. The humor grows childish and immature. Paul Rudd uncomfortably sitting a toilet while people chat with him like he’s in the living room is an example of a simple-minded sight gag, not wit. The narrative is directionless, without a point. There’s a scene in which George, staring in a mirror, is trying to psych himself up for sex he doesn’t want to have. He begins speaking in this bizarre hillbilly accent about how he wants to be with the woman in question. It’s just Paul Rudd, freely ad-libbing for 5 minutes. The resulting soliloquy is one of the most pathetic and embarrassing moments I have witnessed an actor I respect do. Imagine Elmer Fudd talking about his penis and you’ll get the idea. These are jokes aimed at children who just learned the mechanics of how men and women procreate. The film is two distinct halves, the initial part that seems focused and purposeful to an end and a subsequent one that is an aimless series of moronic skits. Two stars for the promising first half and no stars for the second.

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11 Responses to “Wanderlust”

  1. The mirror ad-lib (which is clearly an extended series of outtakes edited together and left mostly in the film – except for the “credit cookie” portion at the end) is definitely a nadir for the movie in my opinion. It starts out at least vaguely amusing and gets sad/embarrassing by the end – and that voice! (a cross between SLING BLADE and I don’t know what…)

  2. I got a few good chuckles. But it got so scattered. It had some promise at the beginning, but fell way short. Disappointed

  3. I have to wonder what brought you to seeing this.

  4. Good review Mark. Wanderlust is pretty uneven but there were actually many moments where I couldn’t stop but laugh at mainly because of this great cast. Let me also not forget to mention the one scene where it’s just Paul Rudd improving for about 3 minutes all by himself. That was definitely worth the price of admission.

  5. Great review, Mark! I’ve been reading mixed opinions about this. Too bad for Paul and Jennifer, two of my favorite comedic actors.

  6. I love Paul Rudd but haven’t had a chance to see this one yet. I’m not a big fan of Jennifer Aniston, although I thought she was great in Horrible Bosses, as she’s been type cast a little. Great review, but think I’ll still catch this one for Paul Rudd’s sake (and mainly shallow reasons unfortunately!)

  7. Terrible movie. I’m sorry you had to sit through it. My wife and I wanted something funny so we checked it out. We both regret that decision. I gave it a 0.5 out of 5 when I reviewed it. Terrible movie and yes that Paul Rudd mirror scene was embarrassing to watch.

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