Director: David Wain
Writers: David Wain and Ken Marino
Principal cast: Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Joe Lo Truglio, Justin Theroux and Alan Alda
Release date: 2nd March 2012
Faced by the grim spectre of unemployment and the loss of their increasingly lush Manhattan lifestyle, New York couple George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) leave the big city to take up an offer of employment from George's brother.
But fate intervenes one late night as the travelling couple are stranded following a bizarre motoring accident, forcing them to take shelter in the out of town retreat simply known as Elysium, a new age gathering for those wishing to abandon the trappings of the modern world.
Faced with the changes in their circumstances, George and Linda decide to embrace the idyllic lifestyle of their new found brothers and sisters, albeit under the watchful gaze of commune leader and hippie guru Seth (Justin Theroux).
But how will the newcomers adapt to the quite literal prospect of free love…..
Director and screenwriter David Wain last graced cinema goers with his blackly comedic look at morals and society with Role Models (2008), the laughs continue here as the film maker is reunited with leading man Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston to explore the downside of new age culture in what is essentially a straight forward romantic comedy laced with some extremely dark humour thrown in for good measure.
Essentially casting two lead actors normally best known for the playing the straight role in comedy partnerships, Wain ensures that his protagonists are surrounded by a colourful array of eccentric and dysfunctional misfits, any comments on the pressures and obsessions found in modern life are counterbalanced by the bizarre rituals and free love practised by a spoof hippie community continuously lost in the haze of 1971.
The girl next door persona perfected by Jennifer Aniston during her Friends era has recently given way to some darker and more risquÃ© humour as witnessed by her overly sexual and hilarious performance as a dominant and frustrated dentist in Horrible Bosses (2010). It is also notable that Wanderlust is the type of movie that in yesteryear would have provided a perfect vehicle for Goldie Hawn and is perfectly pitched for Aniston's comedic talent.
As for the oddballs, Theroux's commune hippie leader seemingly shares some of the mannerisms found in the comedy acting of Luke Wilson and adds a slightly sinister and devious edge to his larger than life, sexually obsessed, bearded new age guru whilst Truglio's nudist wannabe novelist will surely put many off the virtues of wine making for some time to come.
On the other side of the fence we have Ken Marino as Rudd's greed orientated and overly crude brother with Michaela Watkins occasionally stealing laughs aplenty as the long term suffering suburban wife passing through life on a diet of margaritas and day time television.
Rounding off Wain's cast of extreme stereotypes is veteran Alan Alda as the founder and original hippie leader now turned geriatric New Ager. One supposes that if there is a message in Wain's comedy it is that life takes all sorts and is populated by eccentrics everywhere. You just have to find a niche that fits you.
As for the humour, it's more hit than miss, with some gags falling flat or seemingly appearing just crude in nature whilst Wain effectively ensures that audiences will not forget several hilarious moments courtesy of some shock tactics that clearly mock the extremities of the new age lifestyle.
But thankfully nothing is taken too seriously as Wanderlust's dysfunctional cast of misfits provide for a straight forward albeit predictable comedy.
Beneath Wanderlust's sometimes crude and sharply focused humour lies a light romcom that is as instantly enjoyable as it is forgettable. Worth it for some chuckles, but leave your brain at the cinema foyer.