Wanderlust is a fish-out-of-water comedy and by ‘fish’ I mean a married couple of New Yorkers named George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston), and by ‘water’ I mean the city of New York.
You see George and Linda just bought a very expensive, very small apartment in the Greatest City in the World. So what right? If you can afford to own property, what difference does it make if it is ginormous or teeny-tiny?
But wait, this movie is called ‘Wanderlust’, not ‘Small Apartment Lust’, so…what does one do? How about, we make her a Jenny Job-Skipper (See how I punned on the actress’s name there?) who is pitching a depressing ass documentary to HBO on the same day that—this is ripped from the headlines people!—George is fired because his company has been shut down immediately, for financial irregularities. Or something. Who knows.
Let’s get on the road already!
So they put all their belongings into their car (yeah right, everything from a faux NY studio apartment fits into the back of the sad ass hatchback they drive) and head out to Georgia where his brother Rick (Ken Marino, also the film’s co-writer) has a business successful enough for him to inhabit a sizable McMansion with the requisite Big TV, Big Car, Grumpy Kid and Perpetually Drunk Wife (Michaela Watkins).
En route to Rick’s place, George and Linda stop off at a bed-and-breakfast named Elysium where they encounter the wacky inhabitants of a place where ‘peace, love and understanding’ is practiced. This cast of ‘free spirits’ includes Malin Akerman as the hot blonde who offers sex without being asked, Justin Theroux as the hairy muscular messiah-figure who is lovably out of touch with the latest technology (and as it turns out, real estate valuations), Alan Alda as the old coot on a mechanized wheelchair (how did that arrive in Elysium by the way?) and Joe Lo Truglio as a nudist wine-maker and aspiring novelist.
What follows is the classic (I only mean that because of how often Hollywood puts out movies with this type of device, not because it is any good, or possesses any authenticity as a plot device any more) push-pull of “let’s try this” versus “I want to go home” and the switcheroo that happens somewhere along the way.
Let me put it out there: Comedy is tough.
When I am writing, that is the one genre I truly dread. Mostly because I know how tough it is to elicit a giggle or a chuckle from audiences that have seen and heard and watched everything. You have an Internet connection; you are part of the uknown millions that keep me awake at night thinking about what will make you laugh. So I appreciate having a good laugh, I really do.
So why didn’t Wanderlust work for me?
I don’t think hippies are funny. Free love, unwashed long hair, macramé, pot-smoking, wanton nudity…Cliché-based humour? Really? I’m sure there are people who live like that somewhere in the world. But that doesn’t make it funny.
I am also not a fan—at all—of this ascendant tendency in hip(ster?) comedies to mine awkwardness for a laugh. How is watching a person stare, or babble, or pull the funny faces they just did in front of a practice mirror in the previous scene funny? I know I would be embarrassed to watch something like that in real life. I certainly don’t want my entertainment offering that option.
So no, David Wain, Paul Rudd, Ken Marino and other people that think it is funny to look at overweight, out-of-shape people running naked–in slow motion!–I did not think your movie funny. Or fun.