Wanderlust

When he suddenly loses his job, and her documentary is rejected by HBO, Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston find that they’re suddenly facing a financial crisis. After a brief stop at his unbearable brother’s, the couple decide to leave the rat race behind and join a modern-day hippie commune.

They find they have some difficulties adjusting, as anyone would expect when moving into a living situation where there’s few modern conveniences, no privacy, no ownership, nudism, open sexuality and strict vegetarianism.

Normally I would say “Comedy fails to ensue”, but I’m hearing all the hippies from this freaking movie encouraging me to say “Comedy chose its own, non-ensuing path”…

I just wasn’t laughing.

Essentially Rudd and Aniston stumble across the most hippified place in the known universe. It’s a bed and breakfast / living community that hosts a 24 hr guitar strumming bake-fest, punctuated with morning yoga sessions, free love, and tea that makes you trip out. Initially, they only stay one very enjoyable night, but when they push on in the morning and finally arrive at Rudd’s brother’s (who is played annoyingly by Ken Marino), it isn’t long before they decide to go back and give living there a shot.

When they do, they discover there’s a considerable difference between staying the night and staying. Primarily that they’re given absolutely no privacy. But they also discover that the commune practices “Free Love”, which poses a challenge to the married couple.

The humor here, really, all derives from how funny you find modern hippies.

I mean, there’s not a lot of gags aside from. Ha! It’s funny this guy likes to live nude, and Ha-ha, they got mad at him because he killed a fly. Isn’t it silly, he sleeps in a tree? It’s just not something I find inherently funny. Oh my god, they’re blowing a didgeridoo in the middle of the night! Boowahaahh! They’re such hippies they want their baby’s umbilical cord to fall off naturally! OH HO HO HO!!

Not.

I mean (shrugs).

I don’t know, I guess I kind of expected Rudd to be at his sarcastic best here. Given the set up, I thought he would be mocking and deriding things left and right. But for the most part, he actually doesn’t. He kind of plays it straight most of the way through as someone who’s trying to accept the new lifestyle, and then snaps at the end. I would have preferred constant snark across the board.

There’s also a couple of really bad characters here. Ken Marino is just, more obnoxious than he’s ever been. And he’s been pretty obnoxious previously (although I’ve liked him in other things). The hippies are all some variety of burnout or another, but a few of them will really test your patience.

My major issue with the movie, though, is its willingness to “push a joke”. There were a handful of instances in the film where they would do a bit of comedy… and then stay with it… and stay with it… and stay with it. Now. If you’re laughing, if you’re finding it funny, I’m sure it would be killing you, you know? Ha-ha-ha! Make it stop! That sort of thing. But if you’re not (and I wasn’t) it’s just agonizing to watch. It’s more like Groann… Make. It. Stop.

There were a handful of moments cringe-worthy moments, a lack of funny characters, and overall, just a general lack of things I found funny. It’s gonna be a wildly hit or miss movie. For me it’s a miss.

D

About these ads

26 thoughts on “Wanderlust

  1. Sorry to hear Rudd was a dud in this burnt offering.
    I usually dig a Rudd movie; too bad here (score on RTomatoes is only 58).
    note: hippies are NOT inherently funny (2 me); so if someone’s making a movie about hippies, then you better bring your A game and not wait for the game.

  2. There are some actors I *try* to follow and watch everything that they’re in. Paul Rudd is one of them. I mean, he’s from around here (Kansas City area), and most things I’ve seen him in I’ve enjoyed — or at least enjoyed his part in them.

    But now I’m thinking I might have to break the cycle here. This sounds pretty miserable. I don’t even like documentaries on actual hippies, so humor centered on that….eesh.

    • Well, in fairness, I dont know how much of the fault belongs to Rudd. We all know he’s got a lot to offer. He was just a little handcuffed here.

      Plus, its comedy… so your mileage will vary. You know how that goes.

      Of course, if Hippies irk you, I’d stay away. LOL. Its a hippie fest.

  3. Not as funny as it should be, but the cast does a great job with this material and still had me laughing a lot more than I expected. Very uneven though as well. Good review Dan.

  4. I usually like a bit of Paul Rudd – think he’s got a great funny bone. But this film does not sound like it’s making the most of its great, comedic cast. Instead on the rather tired situation the characters are in.

  5. Looks like I’m going to be the opposing voice here.

    I could not disagree more with your take on this film, Dan. Anyone who finds anything David Wain does to be funny probably will do pretty well with this– it’s the same kind of humor seen in Wet Hot American Summer, to which this favorably compares. (Though Wet Hot is still head-and-shoulders above Wanderlust.) And Paul Rudd fans who avoid this are making a mistake. He’s on fire here. That mirror scene is gold.

    You’re right that the film’s jokes often come from the “others” here– those damn dirty hippies– being weird, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I mean, Cedar Rapids does much the same thing by preying on Tim Lippe’s small-town naivety and mining it for humor; this is really no different. (Hell, that’s most of what both A Mighty Wind and Galaxy Quest do, too. Among others.)

    Like all comedy, though, your mileage may vary. There’s a reason comedy is often seen as the most subjective of genres– what makes individual people laugh is incredibly difficult to pin down. For example, I didn’t laugh that much at Bridesmaids.

    • Yeah, I saw your Go See Talk review and didnt want to comment cause it just would have been like… Did we see the same movie? But youre right, Comedy is tough to put your finger on, and people’s mileage WILL vary greatly. I’ve said that myself in the comments to this one several times.

      I’ll confess to not being a huge fan of “Wet Hot American Summer” its another of those films that I think its reputation has gotten far out of control compared to what it actually IS. You know? It was a decent enough little movie. Were I to list my top 200 comedies, I dont think it cracks the list.

      So maybe that’s part of my issue. I just dont think this guy (Director Wain) is that funny.

      (Havent seen Cedar Rapids unfortunately, but love Mighty Wind and Galaxy Quest.)

      • I’m not sure I agree about Wet Hot having an out of control reputation; I’ll happily argue that its sense of humor, a combination of the talents of Wain and the rest of The State‘s troupe, has influenced the direction of comedy for the last twelve years. But I can certainly see Wain not being someone’s cup of team. Their whole sensibility is acerbic and awkward and sarcastic and absurd; like most humor it can’t play to everyone.

        Yeah, I saw your Go See Talk review and didnt want to comment cause it just would have been like… Did we see the same movie?

        Nothing wrong with commenting in dissent, bud– I welcome comments of any sort as long as they promote good discussion. After all, how do we settle and establish our opinions on movies if we never get the opportunity to defend them?

        defend them?

      • No I know, you’re right. It wasn’t a comfort level thing really so much as I couldnt muster up the “oomph” to wanna even bash this movie really. LOL. You know? This one really left me flat,

  6. I saw the trailer for this and cringed. We’ve come to realise the funniest bits are in the trailers yet when a film promotes itself by showing not one single funny moment you begin to worry. Rudd seems to be making odd choices – he’s becoming typecast and he’s a better actor than that. Aniston is her usual self – a crappy actress with a huge star name, great hair and the only woman to ever tell Brad Pitt she wouldn’t have his baby.

    • “I saw the trailer for this and cringed. We’ve come to realise the funniest bits are in the trailers yet when a film promotes itself by showing not one single funny moment you begin to worry.”

      HA! That is insightful and true. I think of things that way too.

      I laughed here and there… but definitely not enough to recommend the movie.

  7. Seems like a polarizing movie from the discussion above. I personally didn’t dig the trailer at all so I probably won’t see it unless I somehow get through the top 50 of my ever growing Netflix queue ;) Good review though Dan, you made your point clear.

  8. Well, bummer. I figured this might be decent since Paul Rudd is generally a funny guy, but I think I’ll have to pass on this one. Good review, Fogs.

Join in the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s