Wanderlust (2012)

George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are living the dream; he is a successful businessman, she’s an occasional documentary maker, and together they have just purchased their very own piece of New York. When George loses his job and Linda’s film is dropped by HBO, however, they must sell their newfangled studio apartment at a loss and move in with George’s show-off brother while they get back on their feet. As their new living arrangements quickly begin to prove unbearable, they depart for a small, welcoming hippy commune that they had stopped over at on their way out of the city. With teachings of honesty and free love, however, they begin to grow apart.

Unlike most Hollywood comedies, the editors decided rather refreshingly to not put all of the funny bits in the trailer. Instead of some progressive attitude to movie marketing, however, it’s more likely that they couldn’t actually find any worth using. That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of inspiration in this David Wain directed, Judd Apatow produced rom-com, it’s just that they’re so mired in cliché and awkward interactions that by the time anything genuinely funny finds its way out of the narrative mess you’re too far gone to care. In once such instance, upon their first arrival at the commune, George and Linda ask if there is a room available only for the film to cut to a room so that one character can ask “does this answer your question?”. Clever, huh? But hardly side-splitting stuff.

For the rest of the movie – aside from another instance in which George, asked to wave away negative energy as part of some kind of ritualised dance, starts shouting about mushrooms – we once again side step jokes and gags and comedy in what has become Apatow’s trademark preference for simply saying the most random thing that any circumstance might possibly elicit. I understand that ad-libbing can be funny, and it often is, but when it basically amounts to Paul Rudd mouthing into a mirror while he attempts to psych himself up so that he can cheat on his wife, the results are anything but. Naturally, this sequence will most likely be one of the film’s most talked about, as I once again prove to be out of touch with contemporary comedy convention – even if it is convention all the same.

It doesn’t help that the audience are deprived of a single reason to root for either George or Linda, Wain’s strategy for characterisation instead amounting to making the supporting cast so abhorrent or forgettable that they seem the best of a bad bunch. Rather than being friendly, charitable or charming people, we are simply told that Rudd rather heroically puts up with his wife’s skittish nature and that Linda disagrees with penguin rape. Aren’t they just the sweetest? The commune, meanwhile, is quite simply an embarrassment, as the filmmakers fall back on every hippy trope going in order to justify the amount of time the script dwells on it, not even Lauren Ambrose being able to inject any originality into it. So we get the usual handmade gifts, psychedelic hallucinations and naturalistic birth are all milked dry, while a half-baked, pointless conflict is finally introduced only for it to be quickly forgotten until it can be promptly resolved after the fact.

I’m just bored now. From Knocked Up to Role Models, Superbad to Walk Hard, Funny People to Bridesmaids, this comedy fraternity has continued to recycle the same characters, the same jokes and the same cringeworthy awfulness until there is nothing of any worth left. Wanderlust might be free of Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Zach Galifianakis, but the similarities are still there – whether it’s the appalling characters, the dreadful scripts, the joylessly gross-out humour or the excruciatingly lazy delusion that their movies, almost from conception, are so intrinsically brilliant that they don’t even have to try.

While not the most offensive of its kind, Wanderlust is simply yet another regurgitation of ideas with a ghost director refusing to make the slightest imprint on what is ultimately just another Judd Apatow production. It’s funny because he’s on the toilet. HA!

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Wanderlust (2012)

  1. Pingback: March 2012 – Fire all things that go bang! « popcornaddict

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