“Akin To A Skit That Never Ends.”
February 24th, 2012
Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston's latest romcom, Wanderlust, initially has promise but falls flat rather quickly. The pair play down-on-their luck New York yuppies forced to relocate to Atlanta, where Rudd's obnoxious brother (Ken Marino) will let them stay rent free. Their trip takes a turn for the goofy when they end up staying a night at the Elysium, a backwoods hippie commune. At first the pair can't wait to leave, but after getting a dose of the alternative, decide to live at the commune and give free love a chance.
The set-up is clever. It's the classic fish out of water tale. The character ensemble living at the commune (Justin Theroux, Malin Ackerman, Alan Alda, etc.) works at first. They're quirky, weird, and for the most part play the gags well. Then the first thirty minutes past, with every scene becoming more forced and predictable. It's akin to a skit that never ends. The actors are clearly improving the majority of their lines. The problem is that the jokes peter out and become tedious. This is especially the case with Ken Marino and Justin Theroux's characters. These parts become painfully unfunny as their spiel goes on way too long.
I didn't see any chemistry whatsoever between Rudd and Anniston. Both actors are essentially dialing these performances in. This may work for Rudd, who can play charming and aloof with ease. It does not work for Anniston. She's played the same character in every romantic comedy she's starred in. It's amazing how terribly generic she is in these roles. To be fair, I liked her in the The Good Girl, Derailed, and Horrible Bosses. But having seen every single one of her romantic comedies as a critic, she's quite bad in this genre. I chalk it up to collecting paychecks. Maybe I'm completely missing her appeal. Please someone write me and tell what I'm not getting.
Wanderlust was written and directed by David Wain. Wain, Ken Marino, and Paul Rudd are writing partners, having done Role Models, The Ten, and Wet Hot American Summer together. This crew is hit or miss with these films. Wanderlust is very similar to Wet Hot American Summer, a film that could have been decent but did not deliver at all. There needed to be better writing for the Wanderlust premise. Putting it together came up woefully short. They would have benefited from a re-write by comedians outside their circle. I think they suffered from groupthink here.
The film is somewhat humorous, but honestly lost me too early. Then plodded along for its short runtime. There's also a healthy dose of dudity that augments the plodding, another example of a gag that goes on seemingly forever. Save this one for cable.