Anyway, the filmmakers spent just as much energy painstakingly crafting this dross as they did coming up with a plausible title. Which means that every ‘joke’ is seen looming up like – insert joke about Kirstie Alley, every situation has as much depth as – insert joke about Paris Hilton, and the characters are as likable and original as – insert joke that names various Kardashians and their vacuous companions.
Of course it stars Jennifer Aniston, that most chameleonic of actors known for her careful selection of strikingly different roles and steadfast refusal to adhere to lazy stereotype.
George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Aniston) are a married New York couple who after synchronised negative occurrences find themselves jobless, homeless and directionless. With no other alternative the adorable (on promo posters at least) couple pack the car and head South to Atlanta, where George’s reprehensible self employed brother Rick lives with his long suffering wife Marissa.
As any married couple knows any long boring drive is filled with long uncomfortable silences, occasionally punctuated by snapping, arguing and even conversation. It is at the conclusion of one of these things that Linda asks for a time out, and they pull over at the first sign advertising possible accommodation – the Elysium.
And this my friends is where the ‘fun’ starts. Of course the Elysium is a hippie commune *ahem* voluntary community settled many decades prior by the carefree Carvin (Alan Alda), full of off the wall characters and outlandish personalities that will have your funny bone ready to snap. (Descriptions provided by Universal Studios.)
George and Linda enjoy a fabulous, refreshing, mildly hedonistic evening before setting off to continue their trek, only for a less successful 24 hours with Rick and Melissa sees them heading right back.
The set up is for a two week dry run at Elysium to decide once and for all if they want to be members of the rat race or the long haired free radical set.
Look I could jump up on the soap box and decry this as a lazy formulaic effort (please at least take that message away though). But these damn things cost nothing and make money hand over fist. Putting everyone’ most likable and non-threatening duo Rudd and Aniston on the poster guaranteed this would turn a profit. Throw in a few late night talk show appearances and the inevitable cutesy ads and that’s your recipe for success (and forgettability) right there.
Aniston even went the extra mile and hooked up with one of the supporting cast Justin Theroux – resulting in numerous ‘her co-star in Wanderlust’ references in the tabloids and more press. What a trooper she is.
The fact is that Hollywood can – and will – make another of these tomorrow. It will be just as mediocre and make just as much money.
And a thousand improv-trained actors will line up hoping to be the next Jonah Hill, the next Jane Lynch, hell even the next Ken Jeung.
Wanderlust was promoted as a somewhat risky comedy with mature themes, but make no mistake this is as calculatedly mainstream as it comes. I checked out long before the prolonged ‘dirty talk’ practise session and attempted sex scene killed my will to live, which was lucky, because with my will sapped I was unable to kill myself when the spontaneous porch birth immediately followed.
Paul Rudd is perhaps the nicest guy in Hollywood this side of John Cusack (Tom Hanks has gotten ornery of late), but even he can’t fake ad-lib his way out of this one. Aniston is cute for her age, so faux down to earth that it makes me vomit, and over-rated in the way that only Nicole Kidman can lay claim. I mean name her ‘best film’ so far…
Wanderlust sucks because it doesn’t.
There I said it.
Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. A product. Feel free to consume if the advertising and brand recognition convinces you (and this warning fails).