2012, R, 98 min. Directed by David Wain. Starring Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman, Alan Alda, Kathryn Hahn, Joe Lo Truglio, Ken Marino, Lauren Ambrose, Jordan Peele.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., March 2, 2012
Jennifer Aniston doesn't get enough credit. It's not that she's any great shakes as a performer – she’s not a shape-shifter, there's a certain sameness to all Aniston’s screen personas – but in her selection of projects, she's chosen to burrow into interesting pockets of the modern female experience. Think of the unwed mother who falls in love with her gay best friend in The Object of My Affection; the broke, still-single stoner and odd-man-out in Friends With Money; the adult who tries and fails at cohabitation with a man-child in The Break-Up, a raw relationship drama dressed up as a romantic comedy; or the professional woman, angsting for a baby, who opts for artificial insemination in The Switch. Sure, the films were sometimes flawed, but they were welcome alternatives to the standard Hollywood cookie-cutter plots about losing a man in 10 days or trudging down the aisle 27 times in bridesmaid taffeta.
Wanderlust is flawed, too, but for its exploration of financial ruin and alternative lifestyles, it shows once again that Aniston, at the very least, knows which way the wind is blowing. That isn't meant to give too much heft to a fairly silly and overly episodic comedy about a Manhattan couple, Linda (Aniston) and George (Rudd), whose careers dead-end on the same day. Unable to pay their mortgage or find new work, they leave the big city and stumble quite by accident into a commune in Georgia, led by a beatific ladies’ man (Justin Theroux in Jesus hair, and killing it). You can already guess the comedy culled from the set-up – nudism, drug freak-outs, the hypocrisies of the self-righteous, and free love antics. But these are professionals – the cast and crew cut their teeth on The State, Childrens Hospital, Friends, MADtv, and a host of other comedy projects – and they know how to work a joke, even when the punchline is foregone.