“Wanderlust? Oh that new Jennifer Aniston movie?”
“No, it’s the new David Wain, Ken Marino and Judd Apatow Movie. Based on their combined track history, there is no way this film is going to be just another mediocre Aniston vehicle.”
“She was in Friends.”
George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jenifer Aniston) have no sooner bought their Manhattan apartment than they are driven away from the city by the crushing infeasibility of life in the rat race. With life in George’s brother (Ken Marino)’s Suburban McMansion proving intolerable, this itchy-footted couple find themselves in a Hippy commune. The (easy target) world of veganism, pretentiousness and free love takes hold of them. But it also takes it toll.
The classic ‘bearded free-spirit chasing after our guy’s wife’ storyline is familiar but none the less harrowing. This particular free spirit is well caricatured by Justin Theroux. The spiritual Guru and leader of the commune is at once pathetic and incredibly sexually threatening. In it’s funniest, least plot driven moments, Wanderlust feels like an ensemble piece and there are some fantastic contributions. Joe Lo Truglio’s nude, winemaking author of political thrillers is magnificent.
It is pretty mediocre. With these three legends of comedy, of course there are laughs. Big laughs. But you can’t help feeling that Wain and Marino are ‘cut-and-pasting’ their left field style straight into Apatow’s ‘cookie cutter’ plot structure. (That was an intentionally mixed metaphor to encapsulate the frustrating blend of Wain – definitely an expert of short form rule breaking- and Apatow, the godfather of modern feature comedy). Sad, considering Role Models was a total steaming pile of studio sausage meat, until Wain and Marino swooped in and saved it about a month before principle photography.
The overall feel of the film compares quite well to the free-love movement it depicts: It’s very enjoyable but actually leaves you feeling pretty cold; The comedy feels opportunistic, grabbing at what it can.; The plot is flabby, like a series of sketches – or a flabby freeloving hippie. And essentially, the love isn’t there. The protagonists are endearing, sure. It is genuinely effecting as these two hopeless wanderers fail to see themselves slipping apart. You’re never going to miss out on a good bit of character when Judd Apatow’s name is in the opening credits. But overall, I just wanted to see the characters suffer.