Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Wanderlust

Wanderlust
Starring:
Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda and Malin Akerman


Rated: R 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 24, 2012 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.

Wanderlust (doing well with some of its verdant locations including Clarkesville, Georgia) is directed by David Wain and produced by Judd Apatow so it's pretty easy to see why Aniston could just go with a leading role they could provide for her that is hardly the magic her stressed-out character needs.
 
Still, the result is a scattershot, ad-lib crudity, even if Aniston isn't able to respond to what Wain (Role Models) and Apatow (Knocked Up) deliver opposite Rudd and her new off-screen beau, Justin Theroux.
 
The film's premise as concocted by Wain and costar Ken Marino for needed unboundaried personal decompression has Aniston's Linda unsuccessful in her endeavors, the latest being a documentary for HBO that is version of  March of the Penguins that doesn't go over well during her laptop presentation. So, her husband, Rudd's George, puts their future from his unspecified high-powered position into a studio apartment or "micro-loft" as a realtor, a still spry Linda Lavin, convinces them to consummate the deal.
 
In no time, George's boss is escorted out of the office in handcuffs and now without employment. So, it's off to Atlanta where his brother Rick, imperiously emoted by Marino, lives in luxury with wife Marissa (Michaela Watkins), not through construction but those onsite portable toilets, and will get his brother into his business. They're detoured along the way by what looks like a Bed & Breakfast and a nudist who turns out to by a fledging writer Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio) upends their way into an eye-opening overnighter at Elysium, a commune, or "international community."
 
The draw of the movie presumably is the openness of the community which represents something invigorating for the couple after spending a night in this laid-back lifestyle with its "truth circle." At least for George after he starts to work for Rick who reminds how low he is on the financial tent pole. From their return and extended stay at Elysium, George finds the hippie-like change less than appealing after Linda is with its self-aggrandizing, technologically anachronistic head Seth (Theroux).
 
While Rudd has the knack for eliciting comedy from humiliation (easily working from his clean-cut appearance to dive into vulgar) especially in a scene in front of a mirror where he gets ready for his big moment with Eva (Malin Akerman), Aniston appears to be more ill at ease with the material even after Linda experiences a new all-time high from Elysium and its rituals. Especially after a televised protest as a casino's proprietors threaten to take its land and questionable 40-year deed.
 
There's little that revealing (targeted for the gullible demographic) or titillating enough as the filmmaking turns out to be mostly aimless through its hit-and-miss jokey risque (free) format. Under Wain's penchant to occasionally connect with pungent, satirical strokes, Marino and, more so, Watkins, respond through their representation of suburbia.
 
 As far as some of the ensemble Akerman obviously is easy on the eyes but has little to offer, and Theroux's schtick impresses less as it goes on. Lauren Ambrose finds peace with a character who is really into natural childbirth, while Kerri Kenney-Silver and Kathryn Hahn (better opposite Rudd in the aforementioned My Idiot Brother) provide wacky and adversarial turns. Lo Truglio's Wayne, who shows George how wine is made in Elysium, has a certain deadpan candor amidst a lifestyle where there is no meat or doors. There's the estimable veteran in Alan Alda (who in real-life is known to some as "Celebrity Tech Support") as Elysium's elder statesman who provides the running gag of mentioning all of its founders.
 
Thus, Wanderlust, in spite of Rudd's mostly understated charm (seen all the way back from Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet) and the way the supporting cast identifies with his improvisational skill, ends up being discomfiting and enervating than overall outrageous, subversive fun (at least not what Theroux did as a scribe for Ben Stiller's Tropic Thunder). Not that it's Aniston's fault for not appearing or complementing her early middle-age beauty with an endearing free-spirit that isn't more than a drug-induced hallucination.

  Frank Chris Jim Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Wanderlust  C+      C               C   C+ 

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