“Wanderlust” – Review by Laurie Coker

Wanderlust, by definition is ones strong desire to travel, to explore the world outside of the normal and while Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd’ characters do wander outside their norm, they hardly do it through desire for travel.  Regardless, their new film, ‘Wanderlust,’ places them in some riotously funny and at times raunchy situations and I had a wonderful time watching. Director and co-writer (along with Ken Marino, who also stars in the film) David Wain takes full advantage of their impressively hilarious cast, and even with its dives in to utter trashiness, and at times, totally trite twists in the tale, I found it a delightfully entertaining film.

George (Rudd), a corporate type, who hates this job, and his pretty wife, Linda (Aniston), whose latest flight-of-fancy employment endeavor crashes and burns, give up renting and buy a matchbox-sized (micro-loft) in NY’s West End, only to find out George’s company is under investigation by the FBI and its doors close. Nearly penniless, George and Linda pile their belongings into their tattered Honda and head to Atlanta, to live with George’s foul-mouthed, obnoxious older brother Rick (Marino), who made it big in the porta-potty rental business.

On the way, after hours of driving, they seek refuge in a bed and breakfast called Elysium, where they meet a band of hippy-types who live together in an “integrated community”/commune. The place preaches peace and free love and hallucinogens (all natural, of course) and its eclectic offerings are charming enough to persuade a pair of Blackberry addicted, city folk like George and Linda, especially after a couple of nights under the roof of his brother and his boozing (and super funny) wife (Michaela Watkins), to give the free-life a try. Their new house mates, an inter-racial couple (Lauren Ambrose and Jordan Peele), a quirky bubble-brained single mom (Kerri Kenny), a nudist (Jo Lo Truglio), a former porn actress (a truly riotous Kathryn Hahn), a super sexy fellow and former New Yorker (pretty and perfect Malin Akerman) and the most charismatic member of the clan, leader Seth, played with ridiculous zest by Justin Theroux give them rap-sessions, no doors or boundaries, truth-telling meetings and opportunities for no-strings-attached intercourse of various kinds.

‘Wanderlust’ is Rudd’s vehicle and Aniston plays wonderfully at his side. It is indeed an all-star comedic cast and even its descents into toilet humor (some actually taking place on or around the toilet) had me laughing in spite of myself. Theroux makes for the quintessential brain-fried leader, who still thinks Walk-Mans, two-way pagers and VCRs make up current high-tech gadgets and that $11,000 is a great deal of cash. A small part by Alan Alda, as the original Elysium founder plays out pleasingly, and it is his character Carvin that holds the deed to the farm, offering the story its silly subplot about a big corporation trying to buy out Elysium to build a casino, which at one point has Linda running topless (with others) in front of a television camera. In another enjoyable, although quite brief cameo, Linda Lavin, plays the real estate agent who sells George and Linda their tiny, tiny apartment and she, too, garners laughs.

Again, it is Rudd who shines in this – he manages to perfectly play off every character he meets with witty, tantalizing ease. Even when Wain and Marino’s script turns raunchy and boy, it sure does turn, Rudd and Aniston too, for that matter, make a decent from normal into wacky, believable utterly pleasing and wholly hilarious. I have questioned some of Aniston’s recent film choices, but with ‘Wanderlust, she seems completely comfortable and in her element.  While I am still talking cast, I simply have to brag on Michaela Watkins, whose droll, under -breath one-liners regarding her dull, desperate-housewife-of-Atlanta life and her cheating, jackass of a husband, steal every scene in which she appears. She says something like – I read somewhere that if you smile all the time, you can convince your brain you are happy – and sarcasm and wit ooze from her entire persona, even though she says it during a Skype call.

Typically, I turn my nose up at a film which digresses unabashedly into raunchiness and the over use of the F-bomb, but Wain and his exceptional cast had me from the opening scene. I am placing an A in my grade book. I could not recommend this film to everyone, but for those who appreciate this sort of venture, I say, grab a friend (not your mother) and pay full price and stay for the outtakes at the end.

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