© 2012 Ray Wong
You'd think Judd Apatow could do no wrong. Well, that is if he was directing. As a producer, Apatow has had enough stink bombs to compensate for the hits. Unfortunately, Wanderlust is in the latter category.
George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are New York couple ready to make the leap of becoming homeowners. George has a relatively good job, while Linda is a documentary maker who is still trying to figure out her niche. Soon, however, they find themselves in a jam after George loses his job and Linda fails to sell her documentary to HBO. Unable to sell the condo, they decide to leave New York to temporarily stay with George's brother Rick (Ken Marino). While enroute to Atlanta, they stumble into a commune and are lured into its carefree lifestyle.
When things don't work out with his brother, George and Linda decide to return to the commune and try it out. "Fathered" by Carvin (Alan Alda) who started the commune in 1971, everyone resident welcomes George and Linda with open arms… and more. What started out as an idyllic life becomes major annoyances for George. Meanwhile, Linda has "drunk the Kool-Aid" and is determined to stay. Little does George realize his idea of finding a carefree, happy life would break his marriage apart.
Paul Rudd (That Is All) has been playing the happy-go-lucky guy-next-door type for years. This role isn't much different, and Rudd can probably do it in his sleep. In a way, it's kind of sad. Rudd does have range, and I hope he can find better materials that showcases his real talent. In the same vein, Jennifer Aniston (Horrible Bosses) keeps playing the same character. She can do so much more (see Horrible Bosses or Management). Granted, Rudd and Aniston have some good chemistry, but I can't help but feel like they're just phoning in their performances.
Justin Theroux (The Ten) has a good time playing the zany hippie Seth, who has the eye for Linda despite George's objection. See, if I were Paul Rudd, I would insist on trading roles with Theroux -- it's a much better and more interesting role. Alan Alda (Tower Heist) also seems to have a good time playing the absentminded patriarch. Joe Lo Truglio (Paul) bears it all (literally) as the nature-loving writer. His is one of the better, more realistic performances.
Marlin Akerman (The Proposal) seems out of place with the rest of the cast -- she looks and acts too pretty, and too normal. Meanwhile, Kathryn Hahn (Our Idiot Brother), Lauren Ambrose (Think of Me) and Kerri Kenney (All About Steve) are perfect as the "slightly" crazy women at the commune. Screenwriter-actor Ken Marino (Jeffrie Was Here) is excellent as George's narcissistic brother.
Written by Marino (Role Models) and director David Wain (Role Models), the screenplay has some bright spots, especially the scenes with George and his brother. At the commune, however, it feels that the writers are trying too hard to be funny, outrageous and raunchy. The result is that it's not particularly funny either. The jokes often feel forced, uneven, and gross just for gross's sake. Not to mention rather sophomoric. While the leads are rather bland (for a purpose, I suppose), the side characters are too cartoonish, with the exception of Seth, Carvin and Wayne the Nudist.
Wain's direction is also uneven. At times it feels like a TV skit. As a raunchy broad comedy, the movie has its moments, but over all, it is simply tiresome and overdone, loud and obnoxious. I think Wain and Marino could have made this much better by studying Apatow (The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, for example) and by better developing the minor characters.
Wanderlust is an interesting idea with potential that somehow gets lost in translation. The execution is subpar. It simply wanders into the category of "miss" instead of "hit."
Stars: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda, Malin Akerman, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Kathryn Hahn, Lauren Ambrose, Kerri Kenney
Director: David Wain
Writers: David Wain, Ken Marino
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug uses
Running Time: 98 minutes
Script - 5
Performance - 6
Direction - 6
Cinematography - 7
Music/Sound - 6
Editing - 7
Production - 7
Total - 6.2 out of 10.0