Review of Wanderlust


Movie Review: "Wanderlust"

--Rating: R (sexual content, language, drug use and graphic nudity)
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: February 24, 2012
Directed by: David Wain
Genre: Comedy

It is often said that if life throws you lemons, you have to make lemonade. In "Wanderlust," George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) get thrown a whole lot of lemons. The film finds them setting out to make lemonade but realizing they lack the sugar, water and pitcher to make it.

When the film opens, the couple seems to have it together. They have just bought a small apartment in a very expensive part of Manhattan. Like most real estate in Manhattan, it is very overpriced and they can barely afford it.

The lemons come when Linda's documentary isn't picked up by HBO, leaving her without the income they were counting on. George then loses his job when his company comes under legal scrutiny. They have to sell the apartment at a big loss because they can't find jobs in the recessed economy.

George's brother Rick (Ken Marino) offers him a job if he is willing to relocate down to Atlanta. With no home and no money, they decide to go ahead and start a new life down south. On the way there in their car, they plan to stop for the night at the Elysium Bed and Breakfast. Before they get there, they are scared by a naked man named Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio) and end up flipping their car.

Thankfully, everyone is fine and Wayne shows them the way to the Elysium, which they prefer to call an "evolved community." The residents of the Elysium are in various states of soul-searching and denial, not unlike George and Linda. They are led by Seth (Justin Theroux) who tries to entice them to let loose and have some fun during their stay.

After a bit of uptightness about nudity and drug use, George and Linda decide to throw caution to the wind and join in the Elysium fun. They spend the entire night singing, playing guitar, smoking pot and even skinny dipping. The next morning, the merry band of misfits helps them turn their car back over and they drive off to Atlanta.

It turns out that Rick is a complete jerk. He is rude to everyone and has an inflated sense of self. His poor wife Marissa (Michaela Watkins) spends her days in a haze of pills and booze. She either doesn't notice or just doesn't care that Rick cheats on her constantly.

Linda hates having to live under Rick's roof and by his rules. George encourages her to give it a try, and she reluctantly agrees. It doesn't take long though for George to change his mind. He begins to fantasize about returning to the commune because they had so much fun there. He figures they will get free room and board until they can determine what their next move should be. It can't be any worse than living under the boorish Rick's roof.

Upon returning to the commune, they realize it may be as bad as Rick's place. The Elysium is not how they remember it. The food is gross, none of the rooms have doors and there is little to no privacy. There is more nudity and sex going on than they recalled from their first visit. Seth and Eva (Malin Akerman) start making sexual advances towards George and Linda, who are monogamous and not into the free love that others in the commune are.

The rest of the movie is a series of funny mishaps and the lessons learned from them as George and Linda try to find out where their place in this world is. It doesn't seem to be Manhattan or Atlanta, but could it possibly be the Elysium?

In a world where many countries are running massive deficits and unemployment is very high, "Wanderlust" seems like a very timely movie. Many people have been forced out of their homes and into situations that they are ill prepared for, much like the main characters. In art as in reality, surviving this upheaval depends on how much you are willing to adjust. The movie shows those sometimes hilarious adjustments through the eyes of George and Linda.

There are some flaws to the film but it is generally quite funny and heartfelt. A few characters like Rick and Seth are very broadly drawn, but the charm of Aniston and Rudd more than make up for this. Director David Wain has worked with Rudd before and knows how to get the best performance possible out of him. In fact, the movie is filled with great performances that make the film a nice piece of escapist entertainment.