Tuesday 6 March 2012

Review: Wanderlust

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Wanderlust poster

98 mins / Dir. David Wain

Despite my modus operandi of not reading reviews before watching a movie at the cinema, intel had reached me that Wanderlust wasn't all it could be. So naturally this was on my mind as I sat in a darkened auditorium with only four other people, and waited for the jokes to start. It was quite a wait.

The Plot: A perma-busy New York couple, George and Linda, stumble upon a hippy commune, and decide to try living there to escape the rat-race. Full of whacky characters, when their lifestyles collide, hilarity ensues! Oh, wait...

It's not that Wanderlust is horrendously bad, per se, it's just not particularly good. This isn't unusual for a first-quarter comedy release, but with Paul Rudd and Alan Alda on board, it's borderline unforgiveable. Almost everyone starring in this is capable of so much better, but especially those two. Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd are amiable enough leads, but since they're both essentially straight-men, it falls on the inhabitants of the 'Intentional Community' to provide the gags. They try. Mostly.

Now, imagine some comedy-hippies. Well done, you've just written half of the film. I'm aware that stereotypes arise because they're usually true, but the secondary characters in Wanderlust are simultaneously over-written yet completely one-dimensional. Alda's commune-founder, Carvin, is the only one who's vaguely interesting, but the part isn't enough for him to do anything with.

Outside of the cardboard characters, the film is produced by Judd Apatow, and manages to have his fingerprints all over it without leaving any trace of his charm (no, really). It's not lewd enough to be gross-out, but not touching enough to have any emotional depth. It doesn't have enough gags to be a rollicking-laugh-a-minute, but not enough plot to make an engaging story.
wanderlust feels like the second-draft of a screenplay that got filmed accidentally, and everyone was too embarrassed to say anything.

I know I shouldn't look into this too deeply, but the overriding message of the film seems to be that the hippy-commune is a flawed idea, and what everyone really needs to make them Happy™ is a little bit of good ol'fashioned capitalism. Then again, minor plot points in here are so ludicrous that ideas like messages and character development have been pretty much left aside.

Despite all that, Wanderlust is frequently chucklesome, but if you're expecting people to throw down the best part of a tenner to watch it, that's not enough.

The Good: Jennifer Aniston hopping around in her Daisy Dukes. Rudd's sex-talk scens are pretty funny too, but you can tell that's improvised and has little to do with the script.

The Bad: The expectation you feel looking at the cast list.

The Ugly: A movie hasn't been this predictable since Titanic.

Worth £8+? Fuck, no. You're going to feel shortchanged if you buy it on DVD for a fiver...


Must try harder. It's not godawful enough to warrant a 2, but there's little of interest here.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

1 comment:

  1. Good review. Wanderlust was pretty uneven but there were actually many moments where I couldn’t stop but laugh at mainly because of this great cast. Let me also not forget to mention the one scene where it’s just Paul Rudd improving for about 3 minutes all by himself. That was definitely worth the price of admission.