Director and writer David Wain has his cinematic roots in TV sketch comedy, which has made its way into his filmmaking style. With each passing movie, his style has developed and matured. His first film, “Wet Hot American Summer,” had an energy to it that really lent itself to the cast. Then with “Role Models,” you got to see a more mainstream movie with huge comedic stars. Now with his new film “Wanderlust,” we are getting his most raucous movie to date, but will his style translate over to a modern audience approval?
Just when married couple George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) decide to take a big leap and buy their first condo in New York City, George loses his job and Linda’s latest flight-of-fancy profession doesn’t pan out. When their only option is to move to Georgia to live with George’s younger brother Rick (Ken Marino) and his wife Marissa (Michaela Watkins), the couple is on their way and stop at a Bed and Breakfast called ELYSIUM that turns out to be a modern-day commune filled with a cornucopia of interesting characters.
The leader and alpha male of the commune is Seth (Justin Theroux), a Jesus-looking guy who apparently knows all and can do all. He is joined by his gorgeous lover (Malin Akerman), a nudist winemaker (Joe Lo Truglio), a pregnant flower child (Lauren Ambrose), the elderly free spirit (Kerri Kenney), the resident Bohemian (Kathryn Hahn) and many other equally colorful individuals.
After one night, the lead couple leaves, only to find out that they can’t stand living with George’s brother and decide to try and give living on the commune full time a try. It proves to be more challenging than expected when they have to embrace everything that this community offers, including hallucinogenic tea, music being played all night, no privacy and partner sharing, because in ELYSIUM everything you have is shared with each other. Do George and Linda have the guts to leave technology and the modern world behind for a simple life?
This film is full of some amazing character actors and a few favorites of my own as well. Paul Rudd does what he does best with George, who is loving and kind, but he goes a bit further with a few of his gags than you normally see and this is where he shines. Jennifer Aniston has decent chemistry with Rudd, and although she is in the middle of these comedic situations, she rarely gets involved in the comedy. Some of the standouts from the supporting cast would have to be Ken Marino, who is pitch perfect as George’s jerk younger brother who you just want to punch in the face, Kathryn Hahn, who has some of the most awkward lines in the film, and Justin Theroux, who is funny but transparent as Seth. From the very first time you see him, you can tell he is interested in Linda and every chance he gets he makes things more difficult for George. His straight forward comedy and connection to nature is pretty great as he chants and grunts out his anger and frustrations.
“Wanderlust” is a pretty straight-forward film full of awkward and funny moments, some outrageous ones and then a lot of downtime in between. The gags and set pieces are funny and you can tell which scenes were improvised but somehow they don’t seem to mesh together. There are some amazing funny and shocking scenes in the film that might make you cringe and they do get the laughs but don’t always feel connected to the rest of the film.
So there are laughs and many funny moments and the cast is great overall, but maybe the director’s history in doing sketch comedy affected his editing of the film to where it feels segmented as oppose to one whole film. Even though its plot is predictable from start to finish, and you can see certain gags coming, the laughs are there and make the film enjoyable to watch. So it’s up to you if you want to see it in theaters or wait to rent it at home.
“Wanderlust” is rated R for sexual content, drug use, language and graphic nudity and is in theaters now.
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