Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Quick Cuts: "Wanderlust" Movie Review by Alex Schopp

Wanderlust (2012)
Director: David Wain
Writer(s): David Wain, Ken Marino
Cast: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda, Malin Akerman, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio
Run Time: 123 min

"Wanderlust" was released on Blu-Ray today, and is the forth directorial effort from David Wain ("Wet Hot American Summer", "Role Models"). The film revolves around George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) as two New Yorkers hit with sudden unemployment and nowhere to turn. They take it as a sign to try out a new lifestyle, and ultimately decide to experiment with life in a rural commune, full of a variety of free spirits. Personalities clash, as George and Linda try to shed their New York personalities for free love and natural living.

I thought this was a solid film from Wain, who's generally kept the comedy bar pretty high in his films. As is usual with his films, he found a way to delicately balance compassion with crude and raunchy humor. The setups and jokes were solid, and it felt like the material presented was pretty fresh. There were so many bits and characters that had great moments in this film and helped this one rise to a higher level than your everyday romantic-ish comedy. On the negative side, however, I thought at times the script jumped around a bit and struggled to settle in; I'm left feeling like something never fully clicked into place, but it definitely wasn't far off. The only other real complaint I have is that the ending left a bit to be desired, and unfortunately felt like after resisting to fall into predictable tropes earlier in the film, it did just that for its final act. It wasn't awful, but it did stand out after earlier standing out to me for not falling into generic schtick.

I think Rudd and Aniston both offered solid performances, and were constantly funny. Rudd again plays the straight-yet-funny man, digging deep to find out who he really is, while Aniston plays a character that was a little more R-rated than what I'm generally used to seeing with her. She was funny and fit into these settings quite well. As is usually the case with David Wain's films, the supporting cast members were the real highlights. Ken Marino, Joe Lo Trulio, Justin Theroux and others offered fantastic performances (the latter two as commune members). The characters were fun for me because not only did they have great characters were great lines, they were written very evenly. You understand their personalities and lifestyles, but also want to laugh at the absurdities that those things have to offer. I'm not sure if I wanted to join them or make fun of them. (Also, as a side-note, I couldn't help but love the brief moment with the hippies playing "Love Take Me Down to the Streets" on their guitars. Really let you know you were in the David Wain universe)

Overall, I'd definitely recommend checking this one out if you haven't already seen it. It's the perfect film for a relaxing evening rental. Keep in mind that this is Rated-R and really does amp up the profanity levels (though not to a negative, in my opinion, but it did stand out). If you don't have problems with that though, I feel confident in saying that you'll get plenty of laughs with this one, even if it has plot moments that seem predictable or common. If you're a David Wain fan, I don't think this has the overall quality of "Wet Hot American Summer", and probably not even that blatant humor of "Role Models", but it provides a comforting blend of solid comedy with genuine heart. It's a fun story and one that seems impossible to dislike, even if you don't love it.