I find myself in the Wain camp, a fan of more or less all of his work — from the cult classics (The State, Wet Hot American Summer) to the beloved failed Comedy Central sitcom Stella. Outside of Role Models, which featured more mainstream humor to appeal to a broader audience, Wain’s style is hysterically peculiar beyond any other I’ve seen.
He strays from that style a bit in Wanderlust, starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston as George and Linda, a married New York couple down on their luck. George just got laid off from his corporate job, and HBO has declined to buy Linda’s depressing penguin documentary.
They go to stay with George’s wealthy a-hole brother Rick (Ken Marino) and his sedated wife (Michaela Watkins) in Georgia, but first stop overnight at a nearby bed and breakfast called Elysium. There they have a trippy night with the commune’s residents (Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman and Alan Alda among them), filled with pot smoking, guitar playing and skinny dipping. When they realize how awful life is at his brother’s house, George and Linda decide to live life freely and join the stereotypically hippie commune lifestyle over at Elysium.
I nearly cringed during the behind the scenes extra when Wain discussed how with Wanderlust, he wanted to examine what people would do when left without options. Ugh. This is Wanderlust with Jennifer Aniston as one of your stars, not some character study written by Diablo Cody. The storyline in itself is corky, but Wain and Marino trade in their niche humor for a standard-issue offbeat comedy.
As such, Wanderlust is a decent watch, but had room to be better. It has its moments of laughter, though there’s nothing too hilarious about it — save for a couple scenes in which Rudd prepares himself for a night of open, no strings attached lovemaking with Akerman’s Eva by talking dirty to both himself in the mirror and her in person. The gag reel and line-o-rama (a compilation of additional ad-libbed dialogue left out of the film) of these scenes, not unlike the rest of the movie, is actually a bit funnier.
While on the topic, there are two more extras that overshadow the film; the first being a mockumentary of Joe Lo Truglio’s plight with regaining self-confidence on set as he plays a nudist and must wear a rather large prosthetic genitalia for the part. The other is a Wanderlust-themed episode of Wainy Days, David Wain’s Internet show that best exemplifies his strange comedy.
For additional Wanderlust reading, check out fellow CL movie critic Anthony Salveggi’s theatrical review of the flick. While you do that, I’ll begin my Wain nostalgia trip by watching Wet Hot American Summer.