Paul Rudd has made a name for himself playing the laced-up guy who is surrounded by crazy people. It worked for him in “Role Models,” and to varying degrees it worked in “I Love You, Man” and “Dinner for Schmucks.” He brings that same kind of feel to his latest role in “Wanderlust.”
The film written by Ken Marino and David Wain (Wain also directed) follows George and Linda as they find themselves at a loss for what to do with themselves.
George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are a married couple who have just purchased a microloft in the West Village of New York. George is reluctant to sign the mortgage for what he keeps thinking of as a studio apartment, but they take the plunge. He is hoping for a big bonus and Linda is pitching a documentary to HBO.
The movie is funny from the beginning as George and Linda show off their new apartment – which really is an extreme studio. It’s so small they have a Murphy bed that pulls down off the wall at night so that they have room to walk around in the apartment during the day.
George and Linda’s journey begins when she makes her pitch to HBO – which she claims is “An Inconvenient Truth” meets “March of the Penguins” theme – and they turn her down flat. On the same day, George goes in hoping for his big bonus at work only to find that the company he works for is under investigation by the FBI so he no longer has a job. Their realtor (Linda Lavin) tells them that they will never make their money back if they sell the apartment, so they are left with no choice but to head down to Atlanta to stay with George’s brother.
Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd play off each other well in the film, and some of the best scenes are just the two of them together. In the scene from the two of them traveling in a small two-door car to Atlanta, Wain captures all the irritation and frustration that two people who have just lost their jobs and dream house might be feeling on a road trip to a place they don’t want to be.
As they enter Georgia, Linda decides she needs to get out of the house so they look for a local place to stop. They pick the closest place, the Elysium Bed and Breakfast. But as they are heading down the road, they see a naked man (Joe Lo Truglio) and decide to back out onto the main road and head to the nearest hotel chain. Unfortunately, their car hits an embankment and ends up flipping over. They are rescued by the naked man who walks them to the bed and breakfast.
Kathy (Kerri Kenney) checks them into a luxurious suite where they bed down for the night. In the middle of the night, when a loud sound wakes Linda up she sends George down to ask for some quiet. When he doesn’t return, she heads down herself and discovers there is a party in the downstairs part of the house. It turns out the bed and breakfast is on the property of an “intentional community,” the word the residents prefer to commune. They all fit the stereotype of hippy with long hair, tie-dyed clothing and the herbal remedies they eat and drink. They are vegan, non-violent and share everything with each other – including their spouses or partners.
They both enjoy their night at Elysium so much that arriving at George’s brother Rick’s (Ken Marino) house is especially hard. Rick is a loud-mouth who bullies his younger brother, his wife and his employees. He gives George a job at his port-a-potty business, but doesn’t let his younger brother live down the fact that he has to take his help. Rick’s wife Marissa (Michaela Watkins) spends her days drinking margaritas and mimosas. No one in the house seems happy.
Instead of staying at Rick’s, George persuades Linda to give a shot at living at Elysium. He makes her promise to try it out for two weeks. She reluctantly agrees. Soon, though, she is enjoying her time with Seth (Justin Theroux) and the other people living at the commune. She embraces her chores of milking animals and selling fruit at the fruit stand, while George struggles with shoveling manure and can’t get used to the lack of doors at Elysium.
The movie follows the pair as they adjust to life at the commune and consider what it is they both really want out of life. The movie has a lot of laugh-out-loud moments, especially since it is full of alumni from sketch comedy shows such as “MadTV” and “The State.” But Wain doesn’t skimp on the scenes that will make viewers squirm. Those who see the film should be prepared for full-frontal nudity and some disconcerting moments as George tries to psych himself up to try out the free love philosophy with another resident at the commune, Eva (Malin Akerman.) The movie deserves the R-rating.