A surprisingly fun fish-out-of-water comedy starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston arrives on DVD/Blu-ray in the UK. One of those few instances when the best jokes aren’t revealed in the trailer.
I was hardly enamoured with Wanderlust on seeing its trailer in the cinema. Of course, the mere sight of Jennifer Aniston post-Friends is cause for infinite concern. Yet, despite the intermittently brilliant Paul Rudd softening the blow, Wanderlust looked like a run-of-the-mill rom-com with a few tired jokes about pooping in public and the unsightly appearance of naturists lacking the super bodies of those spending every waking moment in the gym. However, Role Models director David Wain’s film was rather betrayed by a trailer reduced to a PG-13 parent-friendly shell. Instead of the risqué humour, for example, in Paul Rudd’s brilliant self-help encouragement into a mirror when the prospect of sleeping with a beautiful blonde becomes an impending event, Wanderlust had its edgy gags castrated. Thankfully, the ever-increasing trend to reveal every good joke in a comedy is not evident in this particular film. Indeed, Wain’s energetic fish-out-of-water tale is a frequently hilarious culture clash depicting the upside down coming-together of yuppie versus hippy.
George (Paul Rudd) and his wife Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are a happy but down-on-their-luck couple from New York. After much deliberation over the purchasing of an apartment in the city they buy a micro-loft only for George to be made redundant (on his first day in the job) and Linda fail to sell her penguins-with-testicular-cancer documentary to HBO. Now unable to pay their mortgage, the pair pack up and leave, heading for Georgia where an arrogant brother has offered George a job. En route, after a long drive, the couple stop off at Elysium, a hotel offering bed and breakfast but also doubling as a commune for a group of hippies. George and Linda both enjoy the free-spirited nature of the group but leave in the morning so George can start his new job. However, with his brother’s ego, constant jibes and belittling attitude to George at work, the couple decide to flee their materialistic surroundings for the unassuming and simpler life of Elysium. Yet, having been welcomed back, a free spirit, and indeed free love, might be more difficult to bear than they both expected.
“Playing on hippy stereotypes – the drugs, the sex, the rock n roll – might limit the film’s ability to surprise, as does its formulaic plot, but it takes nothing away from director Wain’s gleeful expose on this life of inebriation and liberation.”
Certainly, Wanderlust benefits from some quite absurd humour which begins with the sight of a bare-naked man with jangling bits welcoming the unwitting couple to a place of free-thinking, free-spirits and free marijuana. Playing on hippy stereotypes – the drugs, the sex, the rock n roll – might limit the film’s ability to surprise, as does its formulaic plot, but it takes nothing away from director Wain’s gleeful expose on this life of inebriation and liberation. Of course, comic-of-the-moment Paul Rudd is the perfect urban everyman to play the fish that has been spilt from its bowl. His innate ability to mix playing it straight alongside the histrionics that come with his emancipation offer the film’s funniest moments as well as its most touching.
Wanderlust is a knockabout comedy that fleetingly flutters along without a pretension in sight. As a vehicle for the talents of Paul Rudd it is the perfect stage, but he’s ably supported by a band of equally impressive team mates with the likes of Justin Theroux’s uber-hippy and Alan Alda’s repetitive elder statesman. Wanderlust is therefore a surprisingly enjoyable culture-clash farce that endears itself to the viewer thanks to its genuine laughs and overarching subplot concerning a down-on-their-luck married couple finding life’s calling.