Movies: "Wanderlust" | Arts & Culture

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Movies: "Wanderlust"
Movies:  "Wanderlust"


Writer/director David Wain’s 2001 teenage camper spoof “Wet Hot American Summer”  became a minor cult classic.  His newest movie, “Wanderlust”, probably won’t.


It’s not because of its stars.  Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are perfectly likable as George and Linda, New York yuppies who’ve just sunk their life savings into a tiny loft apartment.  Just days after they move in, she blows her documentary pitch at HBO (about penguins with testicular cancer) and he loses his job.  


Now broke, they head for Atlanta and a new job for George, working for his jerk brother (co-screenwriter Ken Marino).  But on the way they find themselves staying at a bed and breakfast called Elysium, which is actually a ‘60s-style commune, complete with killer grass, multiple guitars and some didgeridoos.  Elysium is led by a charismatic hippie named Seth (Justin Theroux, occasionally of “Parks & Recreation”), whose condemnations of modern technology are hilariously outdated,  and owned by acid casualty Carvin (Alan Alda).


After a happy night at the commune, George and Linda continue on to his brother’s McMansion.  But it doesn’t take long for them to return to Elysium, where they will have to confront their own commitment to vegan cuisine and free love.  Paul is all for the latter when it comes to a certain blonde communard named Eva (Malin Akerman, Silk Spectre in “Watchmen”), not so much when Linda has a tryst with Seth.


It’s pretty easy to make fun of ‘60s hippy-dippy lifestyles this far into the 21st century, but Wain and Marino’s script never takes the lowest road (although the movie does spend a lot screen time on the commune’s nudist winemaker, played by Joe Lo Truglio, sporting a prosthetic member).  Rudd and Aniston are smart urbanites who find an appealing, mellow alternative to their former lifestyles among the laid-back adults at Elysium -- that is, until Seth’s perfidy intrudes on the idyll.


So how good is this movie?  It’s just okay:  not as lewd as other Judd Apatow productions (he co-produced this one), but still earning a definite R rating for its (mostly male) nudity and drug use.  Rudd and Aniston are both appealing here and there are several humorous moments, with some nice supporting performances from Alda, Akerman,  Marino and Portland's own Linda Lavin as a New York realtor.  


If you’re looking for a few hours of light entertainment -- with some adult content -- you could do worse.  I give “Wanderlust” a B-Minus.  

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