“Wanderlust” starts off very strong with laugh-out-loud moments but slowly winds down and into an over-the-top, exaggerated, strange film that loses its balance. It’s always weird when you can feel the wind being let out of the sail of a film. I always wonder where in the production it went wrong. How can a film be flowing so smoothly and then take sudden leap into a completely unbalanced flick? Without giving anything away, that moment in the film begins with Jennifer Aniston’s character in a drug montage. It was as if a different writer and filmmaker stepped in for some of the sequences that followed. Now you might be wondering why I still have the film at a 3 out of 5. Even when the film spirals down that weird path, there were moments of hilarity that brought tears to my eyes. The movie really succeeded in that department. It felt like every fifteen minutes or so there was a scene that made me laugh-out-loud. For a comedy to keep up that consistency and never get stale, I think it’s worth seeing.
The film stars Paul Rudd (“Anchorman”), Jennifer Aniston (“Along Came Polly”), Justin Thereoux (“Mulhulland Drive”), Malin Ackerman (“Watchmen”) and Ken Marino (“Role Models”). “Wanderlust” is directed by David Wain, who also directed Rudd in “Role Models”.
When the film opens, we meet George (Rudd) and Linda (Aniston), a happily married couple who just bought a studio apartment together in New York City’s West Village. Everything seems to be going smoothly until George loses his job and Linda’s dreams of being a film maker fall through the cracks. This forces them to sell and drive to Georgia to live with George’s annoying older brother, Rick (Marino). On the way down though, they stop at a “hotel” to get some rest. This “hotel” turns out to be a rural community of hippies who all believe in free love. They call it an “Inconsistent Community.” After a trippy night of drugs and fun, George and Linda move along to Rick’s house, only to realize they belong in that hotel. What all seemed like fun at first turns out to be a disaster for George, as his wife gets sucked into that world. Wow, that sounded like it was turning in to a horror movie. Let’s just say that hilarity ensues.
The film is very strong in the laughter department, with a mix of laugh-out-loud moments and awkward cringe-worthy moments. There are so many moments where random things happen that you can’t help but laugh! There were times where I had to look away because the scenes were getting too awkward. Then there were times where I was scratching my head because I had no clue what was going on in the scene. That’s where the film’s main problems lies – balance. You have to have a consistent balance throughout your film. Even the weirder, least structured movies, find a good balance. If you’re throwing us all over the place for no apparent reason, you can lose your audience. The way I felt is that the writers were trying to rush the script to end the movie.
Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston have decent chemistry but neither of their characters are a stretch from previous characters they’ve played. I just felt like I was watching Paul and Jennifer on screen together having fun. There wasn’t enough there for the characters to help me suspend disbelief.
There was one particular character in the film that annoyed me beyond belief. What’s funny is the character, Rick, is supposed to be annoying in the movie. He’s a jerk to his brother George, and just says what he wants. Like I said, he is supposed to be annoying but when that annoyance thickens to the point where it seeps through the screen and irritates the audience uncomfortably, you have a problem. His character was just unnecessarily over-the-top and really needed to be toned down.
As an “Anchorman” nerd, I have to point out what I thought was a nod to that classic comedy. There was a great scene in “Anchorman” where Paul Rudd sprays on cologne called “Sex Panther”. After he sprays it, the next scene that follows is a bunch of actors walking by commenting on the smell; i.e. it smells like “baby food”, “a diaper full of Indian food”, “Big Foot’s D***”, etc.. There were so many funny ones. There is a quick moment in “Wanderlust” where Rudd describes a smell and uses an absurd description. I think that was him kind of winking at the audience, but then again I could be crazy.
“Wanderlust” has a lot of issues but it still made me laugh uncontrollably. I was laughing-out-loud enough to warrant this at a solid matinee viewing.Posted on