Wednesday, February 29, 2012

entertainme: "wanderlust" review




It’s February. Not awards season, not big blockbuster season and not splashy action movie season. This is get out of the cold weather and see a movie season. This week’s recommendation is a comedy about losing your job and finding your bliss. It’s “Wanderlust.

George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are a married couple living the upscale life in New York City, with George in a well paying job that he hates and Linda earnestly pitching a documentary about dying penguins to HBO. The film opens as they purchase a ‘microloft’, a tiny space of an apartment with a price tag that says “We made it.” However, in just a few days George loses his job, HBO passes on Linda's  documentary and George and Linda are left like many homeowners today, underwater.

With no money and no home, George and Linda drive to Georgia to live with George’s brother, Rick, a jackass of a Port-a-Potty king (portrayed maniacally perfect by Ken Marino), his lush numbed out wife and their bratty tween in their shiny Skymall object filled mansion. Early on, there is a funny scene which most couples will recognize in themselves as George and Linda take turns driving and singing and annoying the hell out of each other on the long drive south. Before they arrive at Rick’s house however, George and Linda stop for the night at a breezy sounding B&B called Elysium. It’s when they pull into the driveway in the darkness that they (and we) are introduced to writer / winemaker Wayne and his penis, one of many flailing male body parts to be seen in the film. Kudos to actor Joe Lo Trulio ("Role Models") for nicely pulling off the “Yes, I can act even as my private parts are blowing in the wind.”



It’s at Elysium the “intentional community” where George and Linda (still as uptight New Yorkers) are introduced to the quirky characters who make up the Elysium community from leader Seth (Justin Theroux) resembling a sexy Jesus and his willowy blonde partner Eva (Malin Ackerman) to Karen a quirky/angry hippie (Kathyrn Hahn) and Almond (Lauren Ambrose) an earth mother who takes to carrying around the baby’s placenta after giving birth. Alan Alda also stars as the acid burnout Elysium founder Carvin protecting his land from developers and Linda Lavin is brilliant in her small but excellent role as the “microloft” realtor, Shari.

After a night at Elysium George and Linda head to George’s brother’s house where after a nasty blowout with Rick, with nowhere else to go they head back to Elysium. Deciding to give it two weeks they adapt to a life without doors, shared property, veganism and free love. Aniston’s Linda falls easily into the role of groovy bohemian chick (complete with golden skin, beachy sex hair and cute hippiegirl outfits), even tripping out in one hilarious drug-fueled sequence while Rudd’s George starts to see cracks in the glimmer of commune life even as Eva throws herself at him. Rudd shines best of all in the scene where he tries out seduction lines for Eva  in a mirror. (Be sure to stay for the outtakes at the end of the film for more.)

Directed by David Wain (writer “Wet Hot American Summer”), “Wanderlust” tries hard to continue in the Apatow blueprint, complete with shock value body part shots. The comedy tries, it really does. Aniston and Rudd have chemistry together (they also appeared together in “The Object of my Affection” 1998) but the story wanders, not in a wanderlust kind of way but with a distracting “someone is trying to steal my intentional community away from me” storyline. Yes, there are the pot-smoking, guitar-playing, hummus-eating, free love hippie jokes that you would expect in a film about a city couple moving to a commune but the movie just falls short of past Judd Apatow produced films “Bridesmaids,” “Superbad” and “Knocked Up.” There are laughs and like a commune this movie is best shared with friends with an open mind.



"Wanderlust" is rated R. 98 minutes.

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