By Bret Dorman
What happened to all the good comedies? More than any other genre I find myself consistently unimpressed with comedies. Is it my fault or Hollywood’s? Have my taste changed? Have I become too much of a comedy snob? (That could be completely within the realm of possibility). Or has Hollywood become too streamlined for silliness?
Whatever the problem or whoever is responsible, Wanderlust is actually… a really funny movie and I had a good time watching it.
The Story: George and Linda (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) are forced to leave their NY lifestyles behind and decide to stay at a commune called Elysium while they try to get their lives together! What could go wrong? Also, Ken Marino (co-writer/Rick, Paul Rudd’s character’s brother) is one of my new favorite comedy people.
I’m not a huge Paul Rudd fan in the sense that I am actively looking for what new movies he will be in, marking their release dates on my calendar, and then being first in line to see them. He has never really stood out as a ‘true’ comedian to me. But what I can say, is that he is probably one of the most reliable people in comedy movies right now. Whether its really silly stuff or more straight edge comedy, he is always ‘Paul Rudd’, but he is always great. Since Judd Apatow has unleashed this sort of line-o-rama style of comedy into the mainstream, I can imagine it is hard for some people to adjust. Rudd never seems to stumble or fall short. In fact, some of his best moments are when he’s stuttering his way through a scene, working it out in his head, finding the best way through. Yes I can imagine some people getting tired of Rudd’s persona, but I honestly don’t have it in the foreground of my mind ever, so I’m never thinking of it that way. Every role he plays is just as entertaining as the last.
I’m also not a huge fan of Jennifer Aniston. Besides being ‘the hottest Friend’, I’ve never really paid too much attention to her. I know she’s one of the major paparazzi/gossip magazine Goddesses but I don’t care about that crap. Since Friends she seems to be trying to find her footing. Last year I pinned her as my least favorite of the Horrible Bosses, she just seemed to be trying to hard (or not trying hard enough?) to be ‘dirty funny’ and really relying on her looks to be ‘a hot girl who is also vulgar! WHOA! Double Whammy!’ While its nice of her to lend her looks to a silly movie like this it also comes off a bit bland. In that regard, I also have a bit of a problem with Malin Ackerman. She’s in one of my favorite comedies of the past 5 years, The Brothers Solomon and one of my new favorite comedy shows Childrens Hospital (and yes, she’s Silk Spectre from Watchmen). She seems game for whatever the scene requires and definitely knows she’s hot. But I’m not sure how much of it is uniquely her or if she just is a good sport and does what the script calls for. Watching The Brothers Solomon and Childrens Hospital over and over I get the sense she is a bit stuck up… but that could just be the characters. I would love to have a conversation with her over a couple of drinks and find out what she is really like. Also, she IS hot.
It was a pleasant surprise to find out David Wain directed and co-wrote this movie along with co-writer Ken Marino. I honestly am glad I did not know this because it may have skewed my enjoyment. Either I would not like it as much because I expected too much or like it more because I like those two. But not knowing until the end credits made it more of a “Oh, that’s cool that a movie I like also happened to be made by people I like! Right on!” moment. I’m not saying this as their best work, but in a studio system its a good comedy. Also, I should have known Wain directed it when Stella showed up for a cameo. Twice. Awesome.
Ken Marino is great on Childrens Hospital (which Wain is also a big part of) and here he is pure gold. The guy is really funny and has this great swarmy douche bag sensibility without himself seeming like a douche bag. I recommend listening to Jeff Goldsmith’s Q and A with Ken Marino and actor Joe Lo Truglio for some more inside information and funniness. Also, he was on an episode of How Did This Get Made where they review the Lindsay Lohan “thriller” I know Who Killed Me.
There’s a bunch of other great performances here. Alan Alda is perfect as the founding member of Elysium. Justin Theroux has a lot of fun as a Jesus like Leader. Kerri Kenny-Silver makes a great crazy lady. Joe Lo Truglio is very… ‘honest’ in his performance of a nudist wine maker/writer. There’s also a pretty obscure reference at the end featuring a reporter and grape stomping that I only remember because my dad showed me the video of it about 50 times.
Yes the movie shoe horns in some silly plot about a deed, but I’m not here for plot. I was happy just laughing along and the first 15 minutes of this movie movies super quick while always seeing to it there is a joke or three in every scene. Its hard to review comedies since what I find funny you might not but I can say the movie is very aware that it is a wacky comedy and tries nothing more than to have some fun.
In Conclusion, its been a while since I saw something quite like Wanderlust. A fun mix of irreverent jokes and scenes, wacky characters, normal ‘easy’ jokes, and some hot women game for anything. To EVERYONE who seems super interested in seeing this movie because they “heard Jennifer Aniston say she was naked in it” (which is at least 4 people I know who’ve said that to me) I can assure you she IS naked but blurred out through the filter of a TV News Report. Surprised? I hope not. Disappointed? Join the commune.
Final Grade: B+