Starring Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman, Ken Marino and Mikaela Watkins. Directed by David Wain. 98 minutes. 14A
Fourteen years ago, Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston awkwardly tried to play friends with weird, sexually obtuse benefits in the mainly mediocre rom com, The Object of Affection. Then they just played good friends (or, I suppose friends-in-law) on Friends. In Wanderlust, they play an amalgamation of the two, pretending to be both best friends and husband and wife.
America’s swingy-haired sweetheart and the Apatow era’s most earnest everyman headline David Wain’s latest quirky comedy concoction, a light-hearted and occasionally hilarious commentary on finding yourself despite the deep, dark hole that is the recession. The duo play Linda and George, New Yorkers who have to leave their newly purchased studio apartment behind when they both lose their jobs. On their way to move in with his brother (Ken Marino, Party Down) and perpetually prescription-stoned wife (Mikaela Watkins, SNL), the pair happen upon a free lovey dovey community dubbed Elysium, and fall for its welcoming, toke-sharing inhabitants.
With that effortlessly wavy hair and revolving door way with men, it’s not hard to believe that Aniston might become a closeted hippie. Especially if that hippie was a part of semi-cult led by her current boyfriend (Justin Theroux, stealthily walking the fine line between goofy and loosey goosey sexy in a Russell Brand wig). The role is no stretch for her, and as a result, she doesn’t particularly shine. The exception is her solo scenes with Rudd. Their long-developing relationship is finally paying off … in spot-on, erratic road trip montages.
Rudd will make you spit out your popcorn at certain moments, especially when he struggles to come up with filthy come-ons in front of Elysium’s shared bathroom mirror. His enunciation is strained and stunted, and thus, very true to his fish-out-of-clean-water character. The uncomfortable voice he comes up with must be a first cousin of the one he used to “slap da bass” in I Love You, Man.
This gag, clearly scripted by Rudd on the fly, is highly reminiscent of the scene in Wain’s underappreciated, star-studded opus, Wet Hot American Summer, in which Janeane Garafalo reads a list of names she clearly just made up. In fact, much of the movie plays seems to pay homage to that summer camp-set film, or at least its actors. With Marino and Rudd in major roles and Michael Ian Black, Michael Showalter and Joe La Truglio popping up for short lewd cameos, it’s the makeshift reunion event you haven’t been waiting for (unless you’re awesomely informed). It’s too bad Wain forgot to invite Wet Hot American Summer’s fearless wit to the party.
Many of Wanderlust’s jokes are a little too safe (Linda has a high-flying hallucination), making the purposefully in-your-face ones (La Truglio’s penis gets a lot of play) seem out of place. But that’s not to say you won’t giggle profusely. As the name suggests, Wanderlust is a half-decent little escape flick for those whose sense of humour is slightly off the oft-beaten path. B