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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Wanderlust | Jennifer Anniston, Paul Rudd, Alan Alda, Justin Theroux, Malin Ackerman | Review

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Wanderlust

A couple's marriage is put to the test when they experiment with an alternative lifestyle in producer Judd Apatow's latest comedy directed by David Wain (Role Models).

Paul Rudd and Jennifer Anniston, who worked together on TV's Friends and the big screen's The Object of My Affection, star as New York married couple, George and Linda who decide to leave their big city lifestyle and the rat race behind when George loses his high paying corporate job and fledging filmmaker Linda can't convince HBO to buy her documentary about penguins with cancer. Stressed out, broke and unable to keep their newly acquired, very expensive “micro loft” (pretentious realtor speak for studio apartment) in the West Village, the couple pack up their car and head for Atlanta to stay with George's successful, but obnoxious brother Rick (Ken Marino, who cowrote the script with Wain), his depressed, self medicated wife, Marisa (former SNL regular, Michaela Watkins) and their wise ass son.

On the way, Linda and George wind up at Elysium B&B, which turns out to be a hippie commune founded by elder Carvin (Alan Alda) an over the hill flower child, whose memory was compromised by taking too much LSD. He gets around in a motorized scooter and acts as the father figure in the commune populated by an assortment of hippie stereotypes and bliss bunnies including nudist/winemaker/ novelist Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio) who lets it all hang out...literally, pregnant Earth goddess Silver Almond (Six Feet Under's Lauren Ambrose), her African American lover Rodney (Jordan Peele), an angry former porn star Karen (Kathryn Hahn), and their charismatic leader, long haired, bearded Seth (Anniston's real life boyfriend, Justin Theroux, whom she met on the set) and his hot girlfriend, Eva (Malin Ackerman).

George and Linda are welcomed with opened arms and decide to stay and give this lifestyle a chance.  Linda feels she has finally found her niche and begins to bond with the group, but George has trouble adjusting to the residents and his new environment where there are no rules, no doors, no privacy, animals roam in and out of the house, and smoking pot, free love, a macrobiotic diet, playing guitar, sharing everything, and even pooping in the woods are the norm.  Not helping matters is the fact that Seth shows more interest in Linda than he should.  Additional conflict comes into play with the arrival of a corporate land developer threatening to bulldoze the grounds and build a casino on the property, if Carvin can't come up with the deed.

Unfortunately, Wonderlust is a floundering, uneven comedy that misses the mark.   There are some comical moments that caused me to chuckle, but nothing to laugh out loud about. And, when the intended humor gets down and dirty as in crude, filthy and sexually explicit, it steps over the line. Of course, that is par for the course and nothing less should be expected from any Apatow vehicle.

Rudd is a very talented comedic actor but his monologue in front of a mirror is disgusting, goes on for too long and then is practically repeated during his planned bedroom tryst with Eva.  Like her, I found it to be unfunny and a total turnoff.

As for Anniston, I am beginning to wonder if she just takes whatever script comes along regardless of how crappy it may be. Add this to her growing list of bad career moves.  What she desperately needs is another dramatic role to match her strong performance some years back in The Good Girl.

I can't recommend this film with its unnecessary foul language and full frontal nudity, obviously meant to shock audiences.  Whether it is meant to be a spoof about hippies, marriage, yet another fish out of water tail, or a journey for self discovery, Wanderlust loses its way.

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