February 27, 2012

Movie Review: Wanderlust

This is a movie I knew I was interested in seeing, but I cannot say that I had all that much hope for it. With this second tier Hollywood comedies it is generally a goo bet to keep your expectations in check. It doesn't help that the trailers, and advertising campaign in general, seemed a little lackluster. It just did not look all that interesting, but it does have Paul Rudd and writer/director David Wain going for it. Funny thing is that I felt pretty much the same way about Wain's last movie, Role Models, and that one exceeded my expectations. This new film from the former Stella and The State cast member is entertaining and expectation exceeding in pretty much the same way.

Wanderlust is a quirky, vulgar comedy that is laugh out loud funny, feels genuine, yet never seems to quite take off. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is interesting to note that the movie never really picks up any head of steam or momentum, rather, it seems content to float along, drifting wherever it may happen to go. It is a lot like the majority of the characters in the movie, moving along at an even pace, never looking to upset the status quo. Interesting.

As the movie opens we are introduced to George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston). They are a couple living in New York City and looking to by a studio apartment in the West Village, well, actually it is a microloft. Whatever it is called, it is small and expensive. A couple of simultaneous work happenings find the couple jobless and forced to leave the city. They choose to move, at least temporarily, to Atlanta with George's obnoxious brother, Rick (co-writer Ken Marino), who has offered him a job at his port-o-pot business. On their way they stop for the night at a bed and breakfast which turns out to be something of a hippie commune.

They enjoy their night amongst the eclectic group of individuals who make up the commune, but they move on to their Atlanta destination. However, they are miserable there with Rick and his passive-aggressive alcoholic wife Marissa (Michaela Watkins). George and Linda flee the land of crazy people and their McMansions in favor of the alternative lifestyle at the commune.

Back at the commune the couple attempt to join with the strange society of sharing and free love. Things seem to be going well until they choose to try the idea of the open relationship. Let's just say it doesn't work too well and the combined experience of everything has made them open their eyes and learn something about themselves and their relationship.

So far as the story goes, there is nothing particularly surprising about where it goes as it feels like pretty standard fare. What makes this work as well as it does is the offbeat feel that director David Wain brings to the table and the work of the eclectic cast that includes those mentioned as well as the likes of Justin Theroux, Alan Alda, and Malin Ackerman. It is the execution that makes it work. It is a funny movie that feels genuine. The characters and set up feel real despite being a little to the ridiculous side.

Funny as it is, I am not sure what else to say about it. I liked it, I laughed out loud, and I have no problem recommending it, but it has not left me with a lot to say about it. Strange. Let's just say that if you want to laugh, see this.


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