I’m a big fan of Paul Rudd and believe him to be one of the funniest comedians in film. Anchorman, Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin and Wet Hot American Summer are all classics, not to mention his numerous uncredited and television roles (His recent performance on NBC’s Parks and Recreation was brilliant). I also enjoy Jennifer Aniston as an actress, who I think it one of the most beautiful in the business. With that said, I had high hopes for their new film, Wanderlust.
IMDb describes Wanderlust: “Rattled by sudden unemployment, a Manhattan couple surveys alternative living options, ultimately deciding to experiment with living on a rural commune where free love rules.”
I found the premise intriguing, but I must admit I was curious as to the film’s “R” rating. It seems most of Rudd’s and Aniston’s past comedies were either “PG” or “PG-13,” so I was anxious to see what would push it over the limit. What accounted for the 17+ rating? It was a combination of strong language, sexual situations and full-frontal male nudity. It’s funny, I remember when I was young, showing a woman’s chest was pushing the envelope, but in this day and age, it takes a man’s penis to make the audience cringe, be it in disgust, uneasiness, or out of pure humor.
I’d like to say that Wanderlust was great, but it wasn’t. I’d also like to say it was bad, but it wasn’t that either. Instead, it was one of those films that was comprised of both great and lackluster moments, so when you average it out, it was mediocre at best.
There were some really funny moments in Wanderlust, but there were also a lot of jokes and interactions that fell flat. Both Rudd and Aniston were guilty of having these scenes, but I was more impressed with the latter's overall performance. Aniston impressed me as “Linda,” who was a bit of a dreamer as opposed to her usual portrayal of either a sexual object or know it all.
As far as Rudd is concerned, he played the same character you’ve seen so many times before. Don’t get me wrong, I like Rudd, but he has a certain persona he adheres to, almost like a kind, innocent and charming priest. You’ve seen it in his past films, and you’ll see it here. In my opinion, it’s when Rudd puts a little twist on the character that distinguishes his performance, like his intense idiocracy in Anchorman; unfortunately, you won’t see such a twist in Wanderlust.
Aside from Aniston and Rudd, the supporting cast was rather conventional. Justin Theroux, who I understand to be Aniston’s real-life beau, makes an excellent antagonist as “Seth,” who passes as one of the good guys for awhile, and while his screen time was limited, veteran Alan Alda was amusing as “Carvin,” the founder of the commune. With that said, the real star was the Joe Lo Truglio, who played the nudist "Wayne." You’ll see a little more of Truglio than you’d like, but him chasing down a car in the dead of night with his dangle dangling, well, it’s pretty funny.
All in all, I would lump Wanderlust in the same category as Rudd’s past comedies like I Love You, Man, Dinner for Schmucks and Our IdiotBrother, films I consider to be decent, but far from good. If I were you, I’d wait to see it via either Redbox or Netflix.
Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 46%
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