The last weekend in theaters was another example of the dry spell between winter and summer. Hardly anything seemed like it was worth watching, which is why I was willing to give the new Jennifer Aniston/Paul Rudd vehicle a shot. Normally Wanderlust would be a film that I would wait to see on DVD. It has no apparent ‘big-ness’ that requires a theater, and it is not so monumental that I would be willing to shell out ten bucks to go see it. Luckily I went on a slow night with discounted tickets, so for the bargain price of five dollars I saw Wanderlust.
This film is from the guy who most recently brought us the solidly funny Role Models, and producer Judd Apatow who has his fingers in lots of comedic pies right now. Wanderlust is about two youngish to middle-aged New Yorkers who finally decide to buy property in the city. Or rather, the wife decides and the husband banters a bit before giving in to her demands. After all, she Jennifer Aniston, you get a hot wife you pay the price in the pants department. Unfortunately for the couple, his company is raided the new day before he could get promoted, and she sucks at making penguin documentaries. Naturally the real estate agent is spectacularly unhelpful, and so we see the pair forced to leave for Atlanta to stay with Rudd’s older, cruder brother.
Now there are several things this film does right. It manages to be at least moderately funny throughout, and has a few gems of humor as well. The two funniest moments, not to spoil anything, involve the road-trip montage at the beginning, and a scene with Rudd trying to psyche himself up in front of a mirror. In the first scene the camera work is tight and the interaction between Aniston and Rudd is great. For the second scene it is all because Rudd just lets himself go completely, and ends up turning out something that is humorous precisely because it is so childish and stupid.
Naturally, Paul Rudd is the driving force behind this movie, consistently turning out the jokes and awkward situations that keep the film watchable. The supporting cast does alright as well, but none particularly stand out above the rest. Justin Theroux is okay as the head hippie douche/rival guy, and has moments where he is funny, but never in the effortless way of Rudd. He might be his rival in the film, but in terms of comedic acting there is no contest. Jennifer Aniston is there in her typical role of wet blanket/emotional heart. During the humor it is easy to resent her for not being funny and always bringing down the mood. However, there is not denying that she carries the emotional heart of this film, with an assist from Alan Alda.
Overall it was a good movie, and more enjoyable in the current drought of good cinema. The timing is good, Aniston gets less focus during the middle section so we can focus on Rudd, and the comes back for the emotional stuff in the third act. If you are jonesing for a trip to the theater, this is not a bad watch. Also it is a good date movie, as was evidenced by the fact that every single other viewer in the theater was part of a couple. My buddy and I ended up sitting a few spaces apart, just to make it clear that we weren’t part of the club. Bearing that in mind, you might not want to see this without a date – it’s your call.