Saturday at the Movies: Wanderlust

wanderlust movie posterWanderlust is a comedy that slid under the radar and right through to video… which is only surprising because of the star-studded cast it brings to the table.

Jennifer Aniston (Linda), Paul Rudd (George), Justin Theroux (Seth) and even super hot and awesome Children’s Hospital goddess Malin Akerman (Eva) all grace this comedy with leading roles. And thanks to a little help from Kathryn Hahn (I Love You Man, Parks n’ Rec), Joe Lo Truglio and Kerri Henney (Reno 911), this movie packs some surprisingly funny off-beat punches.

I, too have a bit of wanderlust; but as this hit and miss comedy demonstrates, being a carefree hippy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

George and Linda are a sophisticated Manhattan couple who are down on their luck, bigtime. Having just bought a microloft studio apartment, George is horrified to find that he’s been laid off and can no longer afford the expensive Manhattan lifestyle he and Linda have always wanted. Linda is in no better shape, having had her Penguins with Testicular Cancer documentary rejected by HBO. So the two are forced to cut their losses and move to Hot-lanta, with George’s obnoxious younger brother.

wanderlust justin therouxTired, angry and hopeless, they happen stumble upon a hippy commune named Elysium that changes George’s outlook. The weed probably helped, but meeting a group of carefree spirits including the unofficial leader Seth seems to renew George’s passion for life. Linda is less enthused, but when Seth invites them to stay she and George decide to ‘suck on it’ for awhile.

So they do, in Atlanta; but Linda begins drinking heavily to deal with their situation, and George can’t stand his brother’s condescending attitude. It doesn’t take long for the couple to reconsider the Elysium life…

We’ve all had that desire to run away and escape the real world, give it all up and live off the grid. Elysium promises just that; a 1971 hippy commune where doors are bullshit. Linda feels they are just running way from life, but George convinces her that they should stay two weeks to give it a chance; and why not? They don’t have to chug the koolaid, just take a sip.

wanderlust hippies

Unfortunately, the philosophical kool-aid is soon replaced with iowaska – which apparently smells like Willy Nelson’s braids. This brings Linda way out of her shell, and while George is slowly becoming aware of the fantasy he’s living, Linda is starting to buy in. It doesn’t help that Seth is clearly interested in getting some free love out of the deal, but since it was George’s idea to stay he has little choice but to play along with the peaceniks.

Wanderlust Paul Rudd

But the peace is soon shattered when a casino development project threatens to kick the hippies off their land. Since their senior member, The Lion (Alan Alda) can’t remember where he put the deed, it seems like Elysium is doomed. However they are saved when Linda, caught up in the ‘wanderlust’ of the moment, leads a topless protest to block the construction trucks. This cements her place among the hippies, and brings her and Seth even closer together.

Wanderlust Hippy

In the meantime, George gets a lead on a job in the city. He also misses meat, airconditioning, and the ability to shut a door. But what really drives him over the edge is his attempt to take advantage of the open sexual philosophy of Elysium. As it turns out, he just can’t bring himself to do it – it’s actually one of the most disturbing/funny things I’ve seen Paul Rudd do; kinda slappa-da-bass-esque. But when Linda and Seth hook up, it’s more than George can handle. Snapping, he leaves Elysium and Linda behind.

wanderlust movieWithout blowing the ending, it turns out Seth isn’t all he’s cracked up to be – and it’s up to George to return and save the day, and save Linda from ruining her life. The ending is a bit of a letdown, as are most comedy ‘wrap ups’, but there are a couple funny outtakes during the credits. I liked Wanderlust because I’m a huge fan of Children’s Hospital and Reno 911, and it’s almost a shame that this movie didn’t do better… there’s an especially hilarious, ultra slow motion, old naked people running in fear scene that just frames the weirdness of the movie perfectly.

It’s awkward and funny, a good poke at hippies, and written and directed by David Wain!  If that isn’t reason enough to check it out, I don’t know what is.

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