Release: Friday, February 24, 2012
Something about Paul Rudd tricks me into watching more Paul Rudd movies. Some are good, a few, not so good and there’s the occasional one or two that are terrible and make me think twice for the future Rudd rentals or theater pilgrimages. From the three Ruddy options I had to choose, I go with my gut and say that I hope he never does a movie like this again.
Sweet George Gergenblatt this was a misfire of a comedic take on the hippie culture! I mean, don’t call me a hater of tree-huggers….I do like planet Earth but some of the vibes thrown by what’s purportedly a “big cast” here in Wanderlust just don’t do it for me in this bizarre Apatow production, dude…
Recently laid-off George (Rudd) and his wife Linda (Aniston) are forced to leave New York and head to an Atlanta dwelling belonging to his scab of a brother, Rick (Ken Marino). The obviously well-adjusted man is rich, abusive to his increasingly distant wife, and the owner of a company that makes port-a-johns to boot. Okay, he just sucks.
Then there’s the casual and easygoing layover that George and Linda happen upon on the journey south after Linda insists she has to stop for the night. Turns out, its a magical hippie commune and the outer world is quickly sealed out of the frame from here on out. Pulling down a long driveway, the couple are met by a nude man who tells them its only a few miles down the road. Backing up in a frenzied panic results in flipping the car, so the two are destined to lodge up.
Justin Theroux is as obnoxious as ever as Seth, seemingly a ringleader in the caravan of carefree minglers, nudists and nurturers, herbal consumers and health activists. It’s not a bad place to be by any stretch of the imagination. It’s the awkward way the film crew crash into the scene and portray the entire thing, that’s all. It’s the loud noise at the party that causes everyone to go silent for a moment and no one steps forward to say it was them.
The movie’s hyperboles aren’t isolated to the so-named intentional community. Back in Atlanta (zip code ‘normal’) the rich older brother is beyond insufferable. I didn’t think it was possible for a character to be such a detestable jackass — never mind what Marino was thinking pursuing a dead balloon from the get-go. But we eventually do get away from Rick, and his uppance does come!
Rudd may not be at his best form here (at least in terms of the classic characters he has done before and those he shall reprise soon) but I cheered for him and Linda at the end. The hippie culture was all sorts of weird and mainly a gathering of textbook cliches about people who celebrate the purity of life, of loving one another and doing no harm to others.
It was grossly miscalculated on Wain’s part — or maybe the writers, or everyone — and in particular the overwrought script they had drafted for anyone not a hippie in the film. (The media take a particularly nice jab.) Perhaps the suits wishing to convert the property that is Elysium into homes and other buildings were drawn to scale; everyone and almost everything else — overblown.
More importantly, I think it could have benefited the overall design had Marino and Wain focused less on including all possible banalities and more on beefing up the plot so there was actually more to existence than tripping acid around a circle of hypocrites. I suppose it only seems that way since none of the actors are really believable hippies.
Recommendation: Worth seeing if you are a fan of Paul Rudd for the penis jokes. There are some good line-o-rama moments in front of a mirror. Wouldn’t want to watch, though, if you’re looking for an accurate take on hippie culture.
Running Time: 98 mins.
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