February 24, 2012
Review - " Wanderlust " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: David Wain
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda,
Malin Akerman, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Kathrun Hahn, Kerri
Kenney, Lauren Ambrose, Linda Lavin
The newest model off the production line at the Judd Apatow
comedy factory is “Wanderlust,” your basic fish-out-of-water
sendup. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston play downsized
Manhattan yuppies who join a commune in “Wanderlust,’’ a
raunchy, often hilarious satire from the Judd Apatow stable that
lacks any real bite.
George and Linda Gergenblatt have barely moved into their
pricey new studio apartment on Christopher Street - described as
a “micro-loft’’ by real estate agent Linda Lavin in a very funny
cameo - when George’s Wall Street job is ended by an FBI raid.
Meanwhile, the latest of Linda’s numerous attempts at a career
has crashed and burned. HBO has rejected her proposal for a
documentary about testicular cancer in the Arctic, which she
pitches as a cross between “An Inconvenient Truth’’ and “March of
Desperate, they decide to move to Atlanta and stay with George's
obnoxious brother until they can get back on their feet. En route
to a distant new job for George, the stressed-out Gergenblatts
spend a pot-smoking night at a bed-and-breakfast in northern
Georgia. It’s run by the members of Elysium, a ’60s-style
commune whose members prefer to call it an “intentional
An invitation to join Elysium starts looking pretty good after a few
days at the Atlanta McMansion owned by George’s overbearing
porta-potty-mogul brother/new employer (Ken Marino) and his massively unhappy, perpetually soused wife (Michaela
Watkins). At George’s urging, the Gergenblatts return to Elysium. But will this fairly prissy couple be able to adapt to a
property- and privacy-free existence where free love is freely practiced? They find themselves venturing into Elysium, a
small, free-spirited community where money has no value, clothes are strictly optional, and everyone works together to make
life more meaningful. It's the perfect place for a stressed-out couple like George and Linda to breathe deep and put their
lives into perspective. But will they remain in Elysium, or will the many temptations of the modern world ultimately prove too
attractive to resist?
Aniston thrives in this ensemble comedy. Her funniest moments come after Linda ingests a hallucinogenic drug, starts
tripping (with delightfully cheesy special effects) and ends up in a tree singing “I Believe I Can Fly’’).
This being a mainstream Hollywood movie, her sex scene with the commune’s most suave and manipulative member (her
latest real-life squeeze, Justin Theroux) disappointingly takes place off-screen.
And when Linda takes off her top during a protest, that gets pixilated, though the film contains ample male and female nudity.
Similarly, George’s big night with hot-to-trot Eva (Malin Akerman) is all swaggering build-up by Rudd.
As in previous Apatow productions there’s often a razor-thin line separating making fun of misogyny and racism and offering
it up for the audience’s entertainment. Studiously avoiding political issues, “Wanderlust’’ may lack the satiric edge of Albert
Brooks’ “Lost in America,’’ but it does deliver more big laughs than most comedies these days. And it has a pair of stars with
Wanderlust is frequently hilarious, thanks in
no small part to a stable of funny people who
are more than comfortable working with one
another. At the same time, it's a messy film
that fails to find a way to take characters that
are meant to be changing the protagonists'
lives seriously. The film tells us, by way of
George and Linda's ups and downs, that
there must be some truth to the lifestyle
choices of the people at Elysium, but we
never really get to see what it is. What drives
“Wanderlust” is Mr. Apatow’s signature mix
of gratuitous male nudity, stoner jokes and
sexual humiliation. It isn’t exactly a classic,
but it’s a slightly funnier than average
example of the genre. If you're looking for a
few good belly laughs then this is the movie
for you. I really enjoyed it.