Published Feb 23, 2012Alumni of MTV's bizarre sketch comedy, The State, and current contributors to the absurd and demented Children's Hospital, writers David Wain and Ken Marino (Party Down) have snuck a ridiculous, nasty, graphic and, most importantly, absolutely hysterical comedy into the mainstream with Wanderlust.
Let's get this out of the way up front: comedies don't come much raunchier and hard R than this. Contrary to the lacklustre trailer, it's not all innuendo and cheap granola gags. Be prepared to see the most full frontal nudity this side of Oz (most of it unflattering), used to hilarious effect as a Manhattan couple are confronted by over-the-top caricatures of hippie-dippy commune dwellers on their search for a place to call home.
After rushing into buying a "micro-loft," George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) find themselves unable to pay the mortgage when George loses his job and Linda's pitch to HBO to buy her documentary about penguins with testicular cancer doesn't go so well. The frustrated couple are forced to move in with George's insufferable racist prick brother, Rick (Ken Marino), in Atlanta, but quickly decide to try out life at "intentional community" Elysium, a commune they spent the night at out of necessity along the way and became enamoured with.
The supporting cast of mostly Wain regulars, like Kerri Kenney and Joe Lo Truglio, bring their bawdy, absurdist A-game, with handy assists by Alan Alda, as Elysium's acid-casualty founder, Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), as a pregnant flower child obsessed with her racial tolerance, and Justin Theroux (Tropic Thunder), as vaginally motivated pseudo-guru and jackass-of-all-trades Seth.
As great as the comedic timing, improvisational wit and dedication of the aforementioned performers are, David Wain's excellent sense of pacing imbues Wanderlust with a manic rhythm, making the editing a big part of the film's comedic sensibility. It also certainly helps that his and Marino's script is packed with frank, blunt sexuality and is honest about discussing the sensibility of differing social value structures, refraining from an idealized view from either side of the hippy/urbanite divide.
Jennifer Aniston is the only performer who falls short, doing little to differentiate Linda from the persona she dons in most films, which is a shame after her saucy role in Horrible Bosses. A hungry actress could have cut loose with this part, but at least the script affords Aniston the opportunity to utter the funniest lines ever to exit her mouth.
Sure, the plot is a bit thin and issues are resolved a little too easily, but this is absurdist comedy with heart, and with laughter as the primary goal, Wanderlust delivers in spades.
Wain and Rudd have exceeded even their hilarious previous collaborations (Role Models and Wet Hot American Summer) to deliver what's sure to be the funniest movie of the year for those who appreciate this particular brand of awkward insanity. (Universal)