Wanderlust – Review


Sporadically funny but ultimately unfulfilling

Wanderlust has a comedic pedigree that would seem to put it towards being much better than it turns out. With David Wain behind the camera, as well as one of the credited screenwriters, you’d think with a cast this strong that Wanderlust would be the sort of infectious black comedy that would be remarkably hilarious.

Unfortunately a number of good laughs end up going nowhere as the film has a series of one-off gags that don’t get built upon.

The film has a terrific premise. George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) area couple from New York that decide to buy an apartment in the West Village when everything bottoms out. George loses his job shortly thereafter and with Linda’s career as a documentary filmmaker going nowhere they end up leaving New York City for the South. The couple winds up at a hippie commune for a night before George takes on a job with his jerk brother (Ken Marino) in Atlanta, GA in an attempt to start over. When George opts not to work in the construction related job his brother offers, the two opt to make commune life a permanent one. As they struggle with the decision, the film follows the couple as they discover a lot about themselves individually and as a couple as they opt to try and make it work while wanting to return to the real world.

The problem is that the film takes all the clichés of hippies and communes but doesn’t add anything into it to make it interesting or unique. We’re presented a non-stop avalanche of clichés and archetypes but nothing beyond that. There are plenty of spots where the film could become more than the easy joke and the predictable plot development. It could be helped if the film’s female lead in Jennifer Aniston was anything beyond the character type she’s been playing she was Rachel on Friends.

The further we get from The Good Girl the more it’s looking like an anomaly as opposed to proof that she has an inner actress inside of her as opposed to a really refined television character stretched out for film. She’s charismatic and easy on the eyes but unfortunately Linda isn’t any different from the handful of characters she’s played over any number of romantic comedies. She’s not mailing it in but what could be a fascinating character is turned into every other character in nearly every other film she’s been in. We’ve seen this before and she doesn’t add anything into to make it engaging. Paul Rudd isn’t given much more, as he’s playing the usual character type he’s been typecast as, but he doesn’t stand out as much as Aniston does.

Wanderlust has such a stellar supporting cast that you’d think it’d turn out to be something more but unfortunately they’re not given anything of note to work with. This is just a number of clichéd characters that you could replace with unknowns and get the same exact effect that this supporting cast provides. It’s a case of famous people playing typical roles that could’ve been done on a cheaper scale with unknowns and have virtually the same effect.

It’s kind of a shame because David Wain is known for really good comedies. Having scripted the film as well it’s a shame because there’s something more to the film that’s waiting to be exploited that he doesn’t tap into. He goes for the easy jokes instead of the more complex, which is a shame because it takes what could be a brilliant comedy and lets it slide to mediocre.

Director: David Wain
Notable Cast: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda, Malin Akerman, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Kathryn Hahn, Kerry Kenney-Silver, Lauren Ambrose
Writer(s): David Wain and Ken Marino

Tags: , , , , , ,