Sometimes it is a good idea to go back to your roots. Sometimes it isn’t. Falling into the latter is David Wain’s (Role Models, The Ten) Wanderlust. As far as I am concerned whereas Paul Rudd has been in a couple of winners (Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Vigin, Clueless) his friend (they really are friends) Mr. Wain has yet to direct a good picture. Rudd and Wain worked together a couple of years back on the silly and juvenile film Role Models. They are back together again for another kick at the can and the film world is none the better for it. But the reunions did not stop there…unfortunately.
Towards the beginning of their careers Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd starred together in a film called The Object of My Affection. While it did not blow the doors off the movie industry it was a cute, but different romantic comedy that demonstrated that the two actors had plenty of chemistry. Dial forward 18 years (Wow! Am I ever getting on in years!) and they are both established stars/actors and are working together again in another left of center romantic comedy. This one falls short of the cute mark and is not quirky enough to be funny. Stuck in no man’s land, which is exactly where I felt like I was while watching it.
In a case of everything that could go wrong does, married couple George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) finally bite the bullet and decide to buy a small (and by small I mean closet size) studio on the West Side of New York City. Moments after in film time, Linda finds out that HBO is not going to pick up her documentary about a penguin with testicular cancer and George’s company is raided by the FBI for some kind of corporate faux pas so he is out of a job. Now they cannot afford that tiny apartment.
Crawling to his obnoxious and rich brother’s (Ken Marino – from television’s Veronica Mars) house in Atlanta to work at his porta-potty company, George and Linda have a long drive ahead of them. When Linda can no longer take being in the car one minute more, George pulls the car over to the Elysium, a supposed B&B. Once there they quickly realize that this is not your average B&B.
Elysium is actually more of a commune where a group of people live together very “freely”. After adjusting the odd assortment of characters there, George and Linda actually have a great night. When they get to Rick and his unhappy and heavily medicated wife Marissa’s (Michaela Watkins – The Back-Up Plan) home it becomes apparent very quickly that it is not going to work out.
George and Linda are back in their car and with very little money their options are limited. So because it was a positive experience it is back to Elysium. They are welcomed with open arms. Linda is hesitant but George convinces her to try it out for two weeks and if they don’t like it they can leave. Will Elysium turn out to be the answer to all their problems or just another one to add to the list?
Escaping the rat race of the big city to an alternative and simpler way of living has been done numerous times before. It provides the backdrop for plenty of fish-out-of-water comedic fodder. As this go round the mulberry bush is a Judd Apatow (Pineapple Express, Superbad) product you know there is going to be plenty of body function humour and some nudity. Check and double check (A little bit of Aniston and a whole lot of full frontal from a male supporting actor).
Despite the fact that Aniston and Rudd have worked together before and that she and Theroux are now dating, there was very little chemistry between her and either of her on screen partners. Plus she often is a little out of her element with all the obvious improvising that went on during the filming. She often is standing to the side looking awkward. Plus is in no way convincing in her character’s switch to a free thinking person.
Not an awful film, but not a great one either. There are some laughs. You will have long lulls in between them, though. The plot is just a device to set up the funny moments. There aren’t enough of those, however, and none of the laughs come courtesy of Jennifer Aniston.