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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: July 17: Wanderlust


July 17: Wanderlust

"Rattled by sudden unemployment, a Manhattan couple surveys alternative living options, ultimately deciding to experiment with living on a rural commune where free love rules."
Directed by: David Wain, Rated: R, 98 minutes

Wanderlust feels like a bad episode of some sitcom, where the cast goes out of their comfort zones (off set) and takes a little field trip to a cliche-ridden commune. The jokes are flat and very inconsistent and turns Wanderlust into a series of recycled skits that never amount to anything. It's too messy for its own good and the cluttered script tries way too hard to include every joke possible about hippies, drugs, free love, and nudists. Even the great Paul Rudd can't save the movie, and while he certainly provides the most laughs, they are nowhere near enough to keep the film afloat. Jennifer Anniston provides her usual charm as well, but to no great effect. The two leads really could have been played by anyone and Wanderlust still would have turned out as bad as it has. 

Bad, Paul Rudd! Bad!... aww... look at him. He's too hard to be angry with. 

Wanderlust tells the story of George and Linda, two Manhattan busy-bodies who find themselves out of work and out of money and decide to move to Atlanta to stay with George's brother (Ken Marino). Along the way, they stop at what appears to be a bed and breakfast, but turns out to be a free-love, all-sharing commune run by an acid-ruined hippie from the 60s (Alan Alda). After leaving after just one night, the couple arrive at George's brother's house and almost immediately decide that they can't live with him or his ego. Without anywhere else to go, George and Linda decide to head back to the commune and give that life a chance for two weeks. Of course, nothing is quite as good as it seems and while George begins to see the disadvantages of living in a house without doors and boundaries, Linda embraces the life. The two's relationship begins to be tested and the seemingly straw that breaks the camel's back is the possibility of open relationships. Both love each other, but as the "charismatic" Seth (Anniston's real-life beau, Justin Theroux) makes plenty of moves on Linda and the sexy Eva (Malin Akerman) throws herself at George, that love is tested and pushed to the limits. Throw in a nudist/novelist/wine-maker (Joe Lo Truglio who provides the most laughs and most interesting story), a frumpy "counselor" (Kerri Kenney) that wants you to beat the crap out of each other with truth, and a barren ex-porn star (Kathryn Hahn) and you get an idea of how bizarre Wanderlust really is. And no, it is not as interesting as that sounds. 

How many times have we seen an awkward toilet conversation with people who have no recognition of personal space? 

As I mentioned earlier, the best part of the movie is the nudist, Wayne. Although his appearance throws you off (yes, you see it all), he's the only character in the commune who's really just happy being himself without going overboard on the crazy. Unfortunately, even Wayne falls apart at the end, as writer/director David Wain f**ks everything up with a stupid as hell conclusion. I can't say that any of the characters really developed throughout the film or really even learned much more than the fact you need to relax a little more often. The cast, although talented, portray ridiculous caricatures of every hippie idea and notion to the point of being more annoying than anything else. There's just too much going on stuffed inside a 98 minute film. Instead of a strong story with funny elements, Wanderlust takes the route of combining as many different skits and stringing them together like some variety comedy show. 

Like this, but the shit that's being aired nowadays and not like how it was. You know, when it was actually funny. 

Wanderlust is terribly hit and miss (more miss) and I'd recommend staying away from it. It's also worth mentioning that Wanderlust is extremely vulgar and graphic, but never put to great use. It's simply too over-the-top to be thoroughly enjoyable and makes you kind of cringe more than laugh out loud. It's a really f**ked up movie that tries to combine crossing the line and heart, but fails miserably. The few jokes that are genuinely funny are great, but everything makes you kind of hate yourself for watching this, let alone wondering how the likes of Rudd and Anniston could find themselves involved with it. As Rudd is usually incredible, I can let this one go, but if director David Wain can't turn his act around, I'm going to have to ask that his film-making license be revoked. 

The Good:
only a couple of jokes that hit the mark as well as a friendly little nudist named Wayne
The Bad:
inconsistent comedy that can't find out where it should go, so instead, becomes so vulgar and over-the-top 
The Ugly:
wondering how so many familar faces would object themselves to such crap and how "filmmaker" David Wain was able to gather them together

Overall: 4.0/10


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At July 18, 2012 at 11:36 PM , Anonymous Dan O. said...

Good review Nick. This flick was pretty uneven but there were actually many moments where I couldn’t stop but laugh at mainly because of this great cast. Let me also not forget to mention the one scene where it’s just Paul Rudd improving for about 3 minutes all by himself. That was definitely worth the price of admission.

At July 18, 2012 at 11:40 PM , Blogger Nick said...

Very true, however I thought that scene went on a little too long. I think David Wain knew how good it was and wanted to drag it out for as long as possible, maybe trying to jump-start the movie. Rudd's hillbilly sex voice, however, is hysterical.


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