Film Review by Kam Williams
Conventional Couple Tries Hippie Commune in Fish-Out-of-Water Comedy
Happily-married Linda (Jennifer Aniston) and George (Paul Rudd) finally took the plunge into home ownership after being convinced by their realtor’s (Linda Lavin) sales pitch that a “micro loft” in the West Village would be a great investment. However, when the ambitious workaholic subsequently loses his high-paying, high-stress job, they are forced to sell the postage stamp-sized studio apartment at a big loss.
Unable to afford Manhattan any longer, they decide to take up George’s brother’s (Ken Marino) generous offer of a job and a place to live until they can get back on their feet. So, they pack up the car and start the long drive to Atlanta.
En route, they book a room for a night at what they think is merely a quaint, country bed and breakfast located off the beaten path. But they immediately get a hint that something strange is afoot at Elysium when they are greeted in the driveway by a naked guy (Joe Lo Truglio) who isn’t the slightest bit modest about it. Next, they learn that they have just checked into a free-love commune which considers monogamy tantamount to sexual slavery.
Linda is initially creeped-out by the cult while George finds himself a little intrigued by the alternate lifestyle. Nevertheless, she grudgingly agrees not only to move in but to have an open relationship to boot, in order to make her husband happy.
Then, lo and behold, Linda takes to the arrangement, too, and she soon seduces Seth (Justin Theroux), a hirsute hunk who serenades her with his guitar. George, on the other hand, has a harder time bringing himself to cheat on his wife with the attractive young blonde (Malin Akerman) propositioning him.
Can this marriage survive the infidelity and incessant temptation? That is the recurring question posed by Wanderlust, a fish-out-of-water comedy directed by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer).
The picture was produced by Judd Apatow, whose string of coarse teensploitation flicks includes Bridesmaids, Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Seizing on the flimsiest of excuses for gratuitous full-frontal nude shots, Apatow again remains faithful to his shallow, stated mission to feature male genitalia prominently in every movie he makes. Thus, fans of that phallus philosophy will not be disappointed.
Of far more consequence is the conviction which Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd bring to their performances as the couple in crisis. They succeed in holding together an implausible storyline whose saving grace rests in all the cheap laughs coming courtesy of simplistic stereotypes about aging hippies, hallucinating addicts, bohemian bimbos, insatiable sexaholics and naïve New Agers. The talented leads are ably assisted in this endeavor by a gifted supporting cast stocked with versatile veterans like Alan Alda and Ray Liotta, as well as scene-stealing comediennes such as Kathryn Hahn and Kerri Kenney.
A humorous send-up of the 21st Century commune as a hedonistic dystopia for spoiled brats who can’t cope with the real world.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for profanity, sexuality, drug use and graphic nudity.
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Saturday, February 25, 2012