We can all celebrate! Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston have finally reunited many years after that one 90’s romcom nobody remembers. You know, the one where he played the gay guy she was in love with. Oh, and I think she was pregnant, or something. Anyway, this is Wanderlust! A don’t-drink-the-Kool-Aid satire about a couple cash-strapped bohemians who join a commune of hippy-dippy cartoon characters, this Apatow-esque comedy from writer/director David Wain (Role Models) has its share of goofy gags and look-at-the-weirdoes comedic bright spots. But the pairing of two likable stars and the assembly of several uproarious supporting loons can’t help this Trip from feeling like all jokes and no movie.
George (Rudd) and Linda (Aniston) are New Yorkers whose efforts to purchase a high-status, if smallish, Manhattan bungalow are shot down by bad luck in the workplace. They swing down to Atlanta to stay with George’s rich, but materialistic and shamelessly foul brother, Rick (Ken Marino). On the way, they spend a night at the Elysium, a backwoods cult of neo-hippies and flower children supported by an off-the-map gem of a B & B. George and Linda are lured in by the hospitality and tranquility of the colorful characters they encounter: Seth (Justin Theroux) is the community’s free-love obsessed “charismatic leader”; Carvin (Alan Alda) is its old-coot founder who can’t stop rattling off the names of his long-deceased co-founders; Karen (Kathryn Hahn) is an overblown version of the quintessential no-nonsense hippy-chick; and Wayne Davidson (Joe Lo Truglio) is the resident nudist with a penchant for writing sordid political thrillers.
After just one night of drum circles and good vibes the couple walk away elated. When 20 minutes at Rick’s seriously harshes their buzz, they return to the Elysium to become permanent members. But can peace, love, hemp clothes, and homegrown weed really live up to the hype? Aniston and Rudd have both come a long way since their last big-screen adventure together (by the way, it was called The Object of My Affection). They retain an adequate level of girl-and-boy-next-door chemistry. Though, Aniston, who’s been pigeonholed into playing spin-offs of Rachel Green in various scenarios, makes Linda nothing more than a one-note free spirit floating transparently through. Rudd has a bit more range as an actor, and can play outlandish and weird as easily as he can play his typical 21st century, cynical nice-guy. As George, he gets a chance to showcase his own inner nutcase. In one scene, he preps for his first go at “free-love” with the local beauty Eva (Malin Akerman) by staring into a mirror and spouting an extended monologue of nonsensical and surreal pep-talk ramblings.By the time he gets to the bedroom, he can’t stop acting moronic long enough to get on with the show, a symptom of his idiotic-impotency. Wanderlust itself shares a similar pathology—this ribald comedy is more concerned with reveling in its caricaturist’s portrait of silly earth-lovers than it is with establishing strong central characters then evolving them and their relationships. With really funny support, enough winning jokes, and a good director, the ground is fertile for something tasty (and organic!), but unfortunately a worthy movie never really sprouts from it.