Makes such Paul Rudd disasters like Year One (2009) and Dinner for Schmucks (2010) look like cinematic epics.
Though I have clearly fallen behind at the theater in the past two weeks, due largely to the fact that Mo and I were trolling around Panama, it’s clearly time to get back into the game. Sure, I’m still not accepting Meryl Streep’s Oscar over Viola Davis, but all bad things must eventually end, and that’s clearly one of them.
On the other hand, most of the movies playing now are borderline at best for February/March related reasons, and Wanderlust meets that criteria by any definition. Despite the comic talents of Paul Rudd [think Our Idiot Brother (2011) and Role Models (2008)] and Jennifer Aniston (rent last year’s Horrible Bosses if you have any doubts), this film is as profoundly embarrassing as it is out of date.
Who in God’s name came up with the idea of putting two out of work married New Yorkers on a commune in Georgia while traveling to live temporarily with his utterly despicable brother? While there are some admittedly funny moments, the film crashes and burns from the time our heroes arrive at the equivalent of Woodstock, 2012.
Everything, and I mean everything, about Wanderlust is trivialized beyond definition. Free sex? Welcome home! Have you always dreamed of meeting an irritating guru full of ridiculous platitudes and profoundly lacking anything resembling a sense of the modern-day world? Well, your prayers are answered. Or if you are desperate for entertainment, how about a young, pregnant resident (played by Lauren Ambrose from TV’s Six Feet Under), who decides to not only deliver her child while alone with Rudd on the front porch of the residence, but then proceeds to carry her placenta and umbilical cord around with her in order to whip it up into a delicious tea. Tell me you’re not dying to see this movie!
To make matters worse, Rudd is catastrophically embarrassing as he reduces himself to a functional idiot as he stares into the mirror and practices ridiculous sexual platitudes while deciding to take a roll with Malin Akerman, as beautiful as she is senseless. It is not that Ms. Ackerman lacks talent, but she is no more appealing here than she was in the regrettable Couples Retreat (2009) or 27 Dresses (2008).
If you’ll permit me to close with a few more poignant observations, Rudd’s brother (I mercifully have forgotten his name), a businessman in Atlanta whose job is to fulfill society’s growing need for portable toilets, is crushingly offensive. The film presents him as a demented, hateful man who thinks he is a comic, and it is difficult to sit in the theater without succumbing to a subconscious urge to kill him.
Then there is Alan Alda, who is a wheelchair-bound, mentally challenged owner of the commune’s property. He does little but look mentally addled, and I am sure that “Hawkeye” never saw this coming.
Finally, what kills the film is the performance of Justin Theroux as Seth, the new-age guru who desires little more than to get laid whenever the need arises. Quite frankly, with his beard and long hair he has a strange resemblance to a young Mel Gibson, and little else really needs to be said.
In the end, the only thing good I can possibly say about Wanderlust is the fact that two young girls came into the theater and sat behind me. Though they continued to talk to each other so loudly that I had to move, at least I heard these two loose cannons frantically laughing at every mindless moment, which in the end wasn’t a bad thing.