By | Begun 02/24/2012 | Updated 07/04/2016
Posted in Movies | ,
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Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston experience new expressions of affectionPhoto: Universal Pictures

3 StarsWhy I Saw It: Love Paul Rudd when he’s at his best, and hope springs eternal for another something substantive from Jennifer Aniston.
What I Thought: Not the best, not the worst, just a fun, irreverent, ribald romp.

Wanderlust. Dir. David Wain. Perf. Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda, Ken Marino, Michaela Watkins, Malin Akerman, Kathryn Hahn, Linda Lavin, Joe Lo Truglio. Universal Pictures, 2012.

A couple emigrating under duress from Manhattan to Atlanta find new, unexpected possibility upon stopping at a bed & breakfast that turns out to be commune.

Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston give us another serving of their affable chemistry in this enjoyable romp (and look, there’s Alan Alda as well). Ribald and abundantly lowbrow, Wanderlust is also disarming. If you’re looking for irreverent escapism and belly laughs, this is one you’ll want to catch.

Paul Rudd’s square in his sweet spot, best since I Love You, Man: dramatic enough for substance but only just, leaving an abundance of room for his inspired comedic timing and expression. Jennifer Aniston is, well, Jennifer Aniston doing what she does nowadays (not that there’s anything wrong with that… but where is that superb Good Girl, anyway??)

Wanderlust’s strength lies in its great variety of location and character ~ geographic contrasts, situational oddities, and superb editing combine to create nice momentum, keeping Wanderlust light and funny (vs. “breezy” ~ always a bad sign). Despite any thinness of theme, it never bores. Additionally, every minor character owns a backstory rich enough to compensate for the two-dimensionality of our protagonists, evening things out into something of an ensemble cast. Michaela Watkins, co-writer Ken Marino, and of course Joe Lo Truglio are the standouts, and Linda Lavin with about fifteen lines steals the scene with every one of them.

I’d lay odds that Wanderlust will be most interesting to those who have experienced a long-term relationship of marriage-level intensity. Without this, the pathos that gives Wanderlust what sparse heft it enjoys may well be missed; the import of having adjusted one’s life priorities to support a partner isn’t something that can be grasped intellectually, and Wanderlust can rather sneak up on those who’ve done it.

Is Wanderlust memorable? Nah. Is it anyone’s best work? Probably not. Did everyone show up well? They did. Is it a fun weekend romp? Most definitely. Be sure to watch through the credits.

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