Critics are a bit grossed out by the raunchy comedy but still charmed by leading man Paul Rudd.
By Kara Warner
Fans of the big-screen pairing of Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd have likely been waiting for the two likable actors to reunite since their 1998 romantic dramedy “The Object of My Affection.” At long last, that wait is over with the release of “Wanderlust,” a comedy in which Aniston and Rudd play a stressed-out Manhattan couple who end up traveling through a hippie-ish community that teaches them a lesson or two about what’s really important in life.
The critical response is at 55 percent “Fresh” over at Rotten Tomatoes, with some folks enjoying the awkward humor and unflappable charm of Paul Rudd and others having issues with Rudd and Aniston’s schtick. Read on as we frolic through the “Wanderlust” reviews!
The Irresistible Charm of Paul Rudd
“Paul Rudd is the best friend a movie comedy can have. He always delivers the goods and something extra, usually something wild and weirdly wonderful. In ‘Wanderlust,’ Rudd lets the funny fly. Like the movie he’s in, Rudd only seems normal. Inside, it’s all deliriously unhinged. Rudd plays George, an uptight Wall Street suit squeezed into a Manhattan micro-loft with his documentarian wife Linda (Jennifer Aniston) until the recession shuts them both down. Off they go to Georgia where his idiot brother (Ken Marino, the film’s co-writer) offers him a job in his porta-potty business. Unacceptable. So George and Linda take shelter in Elysium, a commune where craziness reigns along with pot, acid, dodgy hygiene and free love. When the luscious Eva (Malin Akerman) offers to get it on with him, George unravels his straight laces. Here comes the Rudd time capsule moment: In a mirror, George rehearses talking dirty to Eva, taking the word ‘dick’ and stretching it into syllables of near-pornographic hilarity. It helps that Rudd is once again working with director and co-writer David Wain, as he did in ‘Role Models’ and the immortal 2001 indie ‘Wet Hot American Summer.’ ” — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
The Comedy and Quirk Factors
“In sophisticated comedy, what’s funny is the tension between proper manners and the nasty or sexy subtext. Whereas in low comedy, there are no manners, and the nasty or sexy subtext is right there on the surface. And then there’s ‘Wanderlust,’ in which the subtext is blasted through megaphones — the characters say so insanely much you want to scream. The satire is as broad as a battleship and equally bombarding. But it takes guts to do a comedy this big without gross-out slapstick, and the writers and the actors are all in. … You say it sounds like a bunch of stereotypes — and 40-year-old stereotypes? The defense concedes the point. It’s not fresh terrain. But this tribe of hippies is also a tribe of marvelously inventive comic actors doing a fair amount of inspired improvisation and grooving on the mindset.” — David Edelstein, NPR
The Final Word, Pro-Con-Pro Style
“The role of an uptight fish out of water is what Rudd was born for, and he plays George with the congeniality and improvisatorial brio for which he’s become deservedly famous. He and Theroux, who’s barely recognizable beneath a thatch of long hair and a beard, deliver the most well-earned laughs in ‘Wanderlust,’ which otherwise traffics in tired jokes about menstrual cycles, placenta soup and rubbing your fingers together instead of clapping. … Between this film and last summer’s ‘Horrible Bosses,’ Aniston’s coyness — starring in explicit movies without having to be explicit herself — seems to be becoming her stock in trade. It’s not a particularly commendable one, and ‘Wanderlust’ does little to disprove that she’s still a star more suited to TV rather than the big screen. As for Rudd, he still has charm to burn, even playing a type he’s long since outgrown. Like George observing the overgrown children of Elysium, it might be time for Rudd to move on.” — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
“The production has all the style and subtlety — and, admittedly, the exuberance — of TV sketch material. A psychedelic sequence makes Madonna’s halftime show look like high art. Both the straight and hippie realms are populated by parallel groups of fevered eccentrics; the cast includes Mr. Marino, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman, Joe Lo Truglio, Kathryn Hahn, Kerri Kenney, Lauren Ambrose and Linda Lavin. Alan Alda is the commune’s venerable founder, Carvin, whose brain long ago failed the acid test. ‘Wanderlust’ is nothing if not strenuous, strident and gross, and most of it fails the comedy test.” — Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
“There are so many things to feel guilty about liking in the pure and prurient guilty pleasure that is ‘Wanderlust.’ Starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, this is a comedy of no manners about finding your bliss and escaping the modern grind. The laughter is served up naughty and nice, and frequently au naturel, earning it an R rating when perhaps RR (really raunchy) would have been more appropriate. Appropriateness, however, has pretty much been jettisoned by the filmmakers, who have opted instead for the good-fun-found-in-bad-taste tradition of ‘The Hangover.’ Directed by David Wain and co-written with his frequent comic collaborator, Ken Marino, the film is, overall, a very wobbly affair starting with all the dangling naked body parts that greet George (Rudd) and Linda (Aniston) when the couple pulls into a free-love commune they mistake for a B&B.” — Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
Check out everything we’ve got on “Wanderlust.”
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