12 Mar

Title: Wanderlust
Year: 2012
Director: David Wain
Writers: David Wain and Ken Marino
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman, Lauren Ambrose, Joe Lo Truglio, Alan Alda, Kathryn Hahn, Ken Marino
MPAA Rating: R, sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug use
Runtime: 98 min
IMDb Rating: 6.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Metacritic: 53

David Wain’s previous directorial effort before this one was Role Models, which I thought was absolutely hilarious in its crudeness and brought out the very best from its really talented cast. Well, Wanderlust is kind of the same way, even though it’s a tiny bit below Role Models in my opinion, but it still counts with some very assured direction from Mr. Wain and a really capable cast that really brings their A-game to every single scene and makes the material stand out; especially Paul Rudd, who’s a staple of David Wain films (here’s hoping that Wet Hot American Summer prequel happens!).

Wanderlust is far from being the perfect comedy film, because it does have its messy bits here and there, and for every really fresh joke there’s a bit of humor we’ve heard more than once before, but I just thought it was actually very good, and it’s all because of how awesome Paul Rudd is. I’ve long said that if I could choose two male celebrities to be best friends with they would be Paul Rudd and Jon Hamm (who just happen to be really close friends in real life themselves), and it’s because they just look like two really down to earth guys who it would be awesome to simply chill with. Mr. Hamm obviously doesn’t use that in his work as Don Draper is as far from a regular guy as you can get; but Mr. Rudd is all about playing the regular guy who you always really like and connect with, whether it’s in I Love You, Man or Knocked Up, and that’s certainly the case again in Wanderlust.

He plays George, one half of a stressed out Manhattan couple who is faced with a problem many Americans are faced with, downsizing at his job which results in him being left unemployed. So that means he and his wife Linda, played by Jennifer Aniston who’s also a good friend of Mr. Rudd’s in real life, find themselves deciding that the one option they have is move to Atlanta where they can live with George’s brother. And it’s awesome because the stuff that ensues many times borders on the insane, and Mr. Wain is willing to go to really far off places to get some laughs, and while some of those attempts fall way short, which is why I’m not really ready to give this film a grade in the A-range, there are more than a few instances in which him and his cast really hit it out of the park and truly brilliant comedic moments come out of it.

The setting for all of these crazy comic antics isn’t Atlanta, though, but instead it’s Elysium, a hippie sort of commune full of extremely colorful characters who live by their own set of rules of free love, no doors, and hallucinogens. It’s as far away from their Manhattan existence as you could imagine for George and Linda, and the many characters they meet in this place will definitely change their perspectives on life; led by Seth, who is the sex guru-like kind of character played by Justin Theroux (who went on to date Ms. Aniston in real-life after this film). And the rest of the supporting players are just as cartoonish, stereotypes that have been played for laughs time and time again, but that really work here because the actors playing them do wonders with the roles.

The jokes here are the kind that you’ll either really love or that just won’t do it for you at all, because Mr. Wain is all for stepping way out of line for a lewd joke, and keep the gag running for far longer than it really should, to the point in which many times it all gets kind of cringe-worthy. But cringe-worthy in the best of ways because Ms. Aniston conveys so well the role of Linda who’s just super eager, and proves that she should be up for more roles in R-rated comedies after what she does here (and especially what she did in last year’s terrific Horrible Bosses), and especially because of Mr. Rudd. This is a very rare actor who can go through really offensive scenes with his dignity intact, playing it all straight with his everyman kind of charm, delivering an effortless performance that has his unique deadpan style and an expert timing that really puts him right at the top of the best comedic actors working right now.

Wanderlust really did it for me; maybe it was because I hadn’t watched a raunchy comedy like this in quite some time, maybe it was because David Wain’s zany comedic sensibilities really speak to me, maybe it was because I really want  Paul Rudd to be my friend, I don’t know exactly why, but I really liked this one. This is a director who showed really a lot of confidence in his style of comedy, and who has a lot of really talented cohorts to call into action who really know this style inside and out and can keep up with every beat of it, and they make it work ridiculously well. Again, if this doesn’t make you want to check out that rumored Wet Hot American Summer prequel, then you must be kind of crazy.

Grade: B+


One Response to “Wanderlust”

  1. colincarman March 12, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    Cartoonish cast members indeed, but it did it for me as well. Funny stuff! Nice review.

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