It's Oscar weekend, so I'm guessing that a lot of you are going to be filling these next couple of days trying to catch one or two of the nominees you may have missed, and that's a noble effort. But if you let this weekend pass without seeing the awfully funny new film from director David Wain (WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER, ROLE MODELS), you'd be making a horrible mistake. Wain once again teams up with his constant actor companion Paul Rudd and co-writer Ken Marino (who appears in the film as Rudd's piggish brother) to make WANDERLUST, a movie that had me laughing throughout, sometimes convulsing into violent fits that resemble a seizure (yeah, I'm a lot of fun to sit next to in the theater).
Rudd and his "Friends" and THE OBJECT OF MY AFFECTION co-star Jennifer Aniston star as George and Linda, a Manhattan couple that can barely afford the smallest possible micro-loft in the city. Shortly after they purchase said loft, George loses his job and the self-(un)employed Linda hasn't figured out what she's good at yet, so they are forced to leave the city and head to Atlanta, where George's brother and his self-medicating wife (Michaela Watkins) take them in and give George a demeaning data-entry job. On the way to Atlanta, they stop for one night at a bed & breakfast operated and fully stocked by hippies, leading an organic-farming, vegan, free-love existence (some are nudists), but for one night, George and Linda have a fulfilling experience on what turns out to be a commune.
Once they bail on Atlanta, they head back to the commune run by Carvin, played by an amusing Alan Alda, and spiritually guided by Seth (a drop-dead hilarious, everything-you-hate-about-hippies Justin Theroux), who clearly has his eyes set on Linda, just as George has his set on Eva (Malin Akerman). Also on hand on the commune are Kathryn Hahn (who played Rudd's organic-farmer girlfriend in OUR IDIOT BROTHER last year), Lauren Ambrose, Joe Lo Truglio (as the aforementioned nudist), and Kerri Kenney-Silver.
As rude and crude as WANDERLUST can get at times, there is an underlying statement here about the appeal of throwing aside yuppie staples like career, monogamy and worldly possessions. At first, George is the one who sees the stress-free advantages of such a life, but when a potential job comes his way, he suddenly seems hesitant, while Linda picks up the interest. Of course, the element of this life that nearly splits them apart is free love. And after George is given the go-ahead to sleep with Eva, what follows are two of the film's funniest sequences, all thanks to Rudd. You'll know the scenes when you see them. The first involves Rudd in front of a mirror psyching himself up to have sex for the first time outside of his marriage. He lets loose with a string of vulgarities that will go in the comedy history books as one of the funniest scenes committed to film. The follow-up is a scene in which George starts to "seduce" Eva; it's a trainwreck that I barely heard because I was still laughing from the mirror scene.
Aniston doesn't get as many high-comedy moments as Rudd, Theroux or even Lo Truglio, but she's a great reactive force to all of the insanity around her, and very often it's her off-put feedback that made me laugh even harder at something funny. She's not trying to be adorable or edgy, as she often is in her cookie-cutter romantic comedies of late, but between her supporting role in HORRIBLE BOSSES and here in WANDERLUST, I'd say she's on the right course toward reliable, solid comedy work.
The way the film wraps up is slightly hurried and obvious, but it doesn't damage the fantastic work that comes before it. WANDERLUST is another feather in the cap of the Wain-Rudd partnership, which I hope continues until the end of time. I was especially impressed with Theroux work, which is still new to audiences and didn't exactly get much of a boost from his villain role in YOUR HIGHNESS. He's a comedic chameleon who has frequently sacrificed being recognizable to create the best character he can, and Seth is a master stroke of self-important do-gooder sleeze-bag. WANDERLUST will have you gasping for breath from laughter; be sure to bring the oxygen tank.