Paul Rudd has starred in every film directed by David Wain.
We've all been there: Expensive apartment, a soul-crushing job and no financial stability in sight. At the height of desparity, George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) flee from their lives in New York and take both shelter and a job offer from George's idiot brother, Rick (Ken Marino) in Georgia. On their way to Georgia, they decide to rest at the nearest hotel. Unfortunately for them, Elysium Bed & Breakfast is the nearest "hotel" in sight. Immediately, George and Linda find themselves in the middle of a commune, with drugs, dreads and dancing galore. The next 12 hours are spent with free spirits with very colorful personalities. Feeling a rush they haven't felt in years, the down and out couple reluctantly leave Elysium and its' "staff" and head back to reality. However, reality isn't what George and Linda expected it to be and return to Elysium to live out their days being one with themselves and enjoying the simple things. But how perfect can paradise can be?
Wanderlust is a film that is exactly what it looks like. Director David Wain doesn't pull any punches when it comes to his specific brand of humor. Thankfully, that brand of humor is exactly what 2012 needs. Wain isn't a newcomer in the media world. His years in The State helped him break out into directing and has since done the cult classic Wet Hot American Summer and the much celebrated Role Models. Wain's talent in filmmaking has consistently grown which in turn allows a wider audience to experience his trademark humor. Which is great, since there really hasn't been a film that induced so many belly laughs since last years' Horrible Bosses. It's hard not to laugh when you have so many talented comedians on one screen.
Aside from the mediocre Aniston, the cast of Wanderlust is something of comedic genius. Paul Rudd plays George, the neurotic New Yorker who hasn't found joy outside a good cup of coffee in years, introduced into a free spirited camp with no check out time. Rudd plays this with ease, especially with his sarcastic and blunt humor. Leading the commune is Seth, played by the hilarious Justin Theroux, the long haired guitarist who never seems to be too far away. The commune has plenty of strange occupants, including Malin Akerman as the sexy Eva, Joe Lo Truglio as the wine loving nudist Wayne, and Kerri Kenney as the all-too-blunt Kathy. The site in which Elysium is built on is owned by wheelchair-bound Carvin, the aging father to the campsite who never forgets a name, played hysterically by Alan Alda. This is a perfect return for Alda, as his last comedic role was as the very bland billionaire Arthur Shaw in Tower Heist. Alda has some of the film's funnier lines, but it is Theroux who steals the show as menacing Seth, whether it be for his knowledge in popular media tools or his daily ritual of Shout Clensing. Wain would have struck gold had he chosen another female lead besides Aniston. The poor girl does what she can with the role and sometimes induces a smile, but just can't seem to have fun with the role the same way the others are. It doesn't help that you have such great comedians surrounding her throughout the runtime. Regardless, her acting isn't a distraction from the film as a whole so it works in Wain's favor.
Wain's growth in filmmaking has not only been in wide-audiences, but also in story-telling. Wet Hot American Summer was a fun, candid assortment of different campers all in one site. Role Models was a little bigger as two grown men trying to find out how to be adults in surrounding themselves with children. In Wanderlust, Wain has a couple who have had it with life and want to escape the prison cells of crowded "micro-lofts" and dead end jobs by retiring at a hippie commune in Georgia. At first, George must convince Linda that Elysium is exactly what they need. Yet, as time goes on, Linda is the one who wants to stay while George is realizing life exists outside of the campsite. It's a simple enough plot that becomes more intricate once everyone partakes in the truth circle. Hats off to Wain for proving that comedy doesn't always have to be simple.
Boasting a mostly wonderful cast and hysterical running jokes, Wanderlust is a hilariously unexpected movie that should turn a few heads in the box office. Make sure to bring your own "Sack Bag"!