Movie Review: “Wanderlust”

Written by Alicia Kaiser March 01, 2012

The Stella boys have done it again! I’ve still got laugh cramps.

From the cult-comedy geniuses that brought us Stella, Children’s Hospital and Wet Hot American Summer comes the new comedy tour-de-force Wanderlust. It’s been a while since I’ve been literally crippled by laughter in a theatre seat, but this movie definitely delivers the goods. As a die-hard fan of writer/director David Wain and his team of comedy wizards (Ken Marino, Paul Rudd, Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black to name a few) I am happy to admit that there is something in this movie for everyone: for fans and new audiences alike.

Though more mainstream than his usual productions, Wanderlust still has the Wainy touch. His movies tend to be crass and outrageous, yet subtly moving and are usually based around pushing the boundaries of ordinary subjects (i.e., business, suburban teens at summercamp, children’s hospitals, etc.). In Wanderlust’s case, Wain’s interest is commune hippies, and I demand this movie be seen, guys; it’s good for your heart!

The plot is driven by George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) – a married couple trying to live up to the American Dream in New York – and chronicles their quest to find happiness and purpose in uncertain financial times. Immediately after the couple purchases a microloft (think teenie-weenie bachelor suite) in their dream neighborhood, George, who loses his job, and Linda, who is already without stable work, are forced to backtrack. On a squabbling road trip to a fallback paycheck in Atlanta with George’s horrible brother, Rick (Ken Marino), the couple pull off at the Elysium Bed & Breakfast, which turns out to be a commune.

The commune, or, as the inhabitants call it, “intentional community”, is run by Carvin (Alan Alda), an old acid-brained paraplegic, and is populated by a clan of young, sexy, dirt-bag misfits, including familiar comedy actors such as Justin Theroux, Malin Ackerman, Jo Lo Truglio, Lauren Ambrose and Keri Kenny. From here, George and Linda experience a more laid back lifestyle featuring no lack of comedic interjections. There are far too many gut-bursting scenes worth mentioning here, so I’ll just refrain and leave it up to you to explore the magic.

 

Because Wanderlust is structured to be a little more mainstream than Wain’s earlier movies, I was all little wary that the film was going to disappoint. I feared that Wain and Marino (who co-wrote the screenplay) would need to censor the wacky, sketch-like personality that goes into their work and that is subsequently the catalyst for their cult following. That fear didn’t last long, however, as twenty minutes in a naked Jo Lo Truglio is chasing the protagonists down a dark road with a glass of wine in one hand and his wang freely flailing. “Yes,” I thought, “this is what I signed up for.”

As for Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, they make a really good team. Normally I don’t really care for Aniston’s roles – she usually just plays the same scorned woman over and over again and its too difficult to give a shit – but the chemistry between her and Rudd, and her and all of the other comedians on screen for that matter, really gave her the chance to sparkle. She was pretty dang funny and I was pretty dang impressed. As for Rudd, he has found his element. Outrageous, shock-comedy is his forte and I hope he never goes back to the conventional stuff. He laid down some gold in this movie; I’ll probably be quoting him for weeks.

That's David Wain in the center, doing Director stuff.

Overall, Wanderlust has earned my unyielding admiration. Even though the plot twists and turns are generally obvious and follow the conventional romantic-comedy structure, there are some hilarious scenes peppered throughout and some even better dialogues. You know something good is going on when the whole theatre is a roar of unkempt cackles from both men and women. Like Judd Apatow (who in fact produced the film), David Wain knows how to enthrall both demographics with comedy. If you like physical comedy, intellectual comedy, (amazing) raunchy jokes and rom-coms, Wanderlust might be right up your alley. You might even, as the movie morally suggests, take a breather from your baggage and enjoy yourself.

My rating: 8.5/10

 

 

 

 

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About Alicia Kaiser

Alicia Kaiser

Alicia Kaiser: University student; Movie enthusiast; Nerd. She enjoys reading, writing, partaking in shenanigans and making sweet crafts. Currently, she is simultaneously employed by and a student at the University of Victoria. While she moseys towards her degree with Major in English Literature and a Minor in Professional Writing, she can be found in UVic Marketing doing cool, grown-up stuff. For Alicia, watching movies is comparable to (if not more important than), eating, sleeping and physical activity. Her reviews are full of passion, pizzazz, analysis, and introspection. Enjoy.

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