Wanderlust's journey is hardly exceptional
Starring Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd. Rated 14A. Now playing
The comic journey of yuppie reclamation was probably best depicted by 1985’s Lost in America, in which Angelenos Albert Brooks and Julie Hagerty jumped in their RV to “touch Indians” in the heartland. Here, the touchie-feelies are George and Linda (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, well matched), Manhattanites who get their asses kicked, financially speaking, just after purchasing a pricey “micro-loft”. (Their realtor is played by ’70s sitcom star Linda Lavin.)
Forced to take a crap job—literally, since it’s in porta-potty sales—from his beyond-obnoxious brother (Ken Marino, who cowrote the scattershot script with director David Wain), George drags Linda to soul-dead suburban Atlanta. In transit, they happen upon a rural commune that seems frozen in time. This intentionally silly community reads as the spoof version of the more Mansonesque one that seduces the title character in Martha Marcy May Marlene—right down to a macho guitar battle between the alpha male and an underpowered rival.
This time, the shaggy charismatic is played by Aniston’s new real-life paramour, Justin Theroux (of the famous writing family). I wish he had more bite as the would-be Svengali attempting to woo Linda away from the increasingly flummoxed George, who doesn’t drink the ayahuasca as readily as his wife does. A good psychedelic scene does result, and there’s a more curious one with a giant, coffee-slurping fly, although that happens much later, apropos of nothing. Curious tonal shifts dominate in a tale that is barely more consistent than your average sketch show.
Still, the director (who also appears in some mildly funny morning-TV segments) clearly gets a kick out of even his most outlandish characters, with notables played by Alan Alda, Lauren Ambrose, and Malin Akerman. And Rudd makes an amusing shtick out of being embarrassed at talking dirty. There’s some pastoral nudity, too, but not the kind you, and Albert Brooks, were hoping to see.
Watch the trailer for Wanderlust.