Reviews for the Easily Distracted:
How Many More Jennifer Aniston Movies Do We As A Society Have To Endure? I'd estimate two a year until she dies. So...100 more.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three portable toilets out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Yuppie couple flees unemployment by holing up with dirty, dirty hippies.
Tagline: "Leave your baggage behind."
Better Tagline: "Written by someone who's never tried to spend a summer outdoors in the Deep South."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: George (Paul Rudd) has just lost his job, so he and wife Linda (Aniston) are forced to sell their high-priced West Village apartment and live with his brother Rick in Atlanta. On the way, they have an accident and spend the evening at Elysium, an "independent community" run by the charismatic Seth (Justin Theroux). They have a lovely time and, after discovering just what a colossal asshole Rick is, decide to move back permanently. Hallucinogenic experimentation and free love ensue.
"Critical" Analysis: Despite reviewing movies semi-professionally, I rarely watch trailers and previews. It's not to be contrarian, but I don't think I'm going out on a limb saying previews show way too much of the films they're supposed to be promoting. In an effort to secure as big an audience as possible, studios cram them with as many ginormous F/X shots (for action movies) or jokes (for comedies) as possible. To make a long diatribe longer, I'd rather experience all that shit for the first time on the big screen.
I've found this works to my advantage, not knowing too much about what's coming or who's behind the film. And this was definitely the case with Wanderlust, because beyond knowing it starred Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston and Jennifer Aniston's new boyfriend, I was in the dark. So I didn't know the movie also starred half the cast of MTV's The State, and was directed by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) and written by Wain and Ken Marino, who also collaborated on Role Models. While it isn't a true sequel to WHAS, you could almost view it as that movie's dumber cousin.
Why dumber? Well, because Wanderlust is a Big Time Studio Picture, and some things are still verboten (the Molly Shannon dating a 12-year-old storyline would never fly with mainstream audiences, nor would the love scene between McKinley and Ben). That's not to say Wain and Marino don't still push the boundaries (senior citizen full frontal? Yes, please!), but I can only imagine what treasures the director's cut will reveal.
So yes, I laughed. Not so much at Aniston, whose inclusion feels more like a calculated move to draw attention to the film than comedic strategy. She plays the same blandly goofy nice girl persona in everything she's in, so you know what you're getting. Rudd is charming as always, and has an extended solo scene in front of a bathroom mirror that literally had me in tears (until it dragged on five minutes too long). Theroux plays another version of the bearded weirdo Wain seems so fond of (see also Christopher Meloni in WHAS), but isn't anything special. Unsurprisingly, the best scenes come courtesy of the secondary characters and extended cameos, especially Joe Lo Truglio as Elysium's resident nudist winemaker/aspiring political novelist, Alan Alda as the community's founder, and Wain, Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black as a sleazy news team.
Wanderlust is a pleasant enough diversion, and a step above what you've come to expect from an Aniston vehicle. Whether that warrants actually buying a ticket to see it, I leave to the reader.
Wanderlust is in theaters today. Don't forget to put on your dangle bag.
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