Soon after Linda (Jennifer Aniston) and George (Paul Rudd) but an apartment in New York their work arrangements fall through and they find themselves on the road to stay with George’s obnoxious brother Rick (Ken Marino) in Georgia. They stop for the night at Elysium B&B and discover that this place is less a hotel and more a hippie commune. After a night of smoking weed and relaxing the couple hit the road again, only to find themselves drawn back to this unusual way of life.
Sometimes it seems unfathomable why these cringey ‘comedies’ keep getting made. There is actually very little endearing about Wanderlust, in fact, the most enjoyable thing is trying to figure out when Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux actually got together during the filming process. Jennifer Aniston undoes all the good she did with her brilliantly over the top character in Horrible Bosses, and plays a character who is flighty and unable to commit to anything in her life. Instead of coming off like a free spirit, the character comes off as annoying and rather selfish. There is some of the typical Aniston deadpan delivery in there, which just about saves her performance, but it is not enough to save the film.
Paul Rudd plays a similar character to the one he played in I Love You, Man; a guy who is lacking confidence, but has a sweetness underneath it all. Rudd’s comedic skills were a revelation in Anchorman, but after playing the same character for the last number of years, this is getting old. There is a painful scene where George tries to talk himself into the ‘Free Love’ feeling that is floating around the commune. It is obviously improvised, and it soon stops being funny and leaves the audience left praying that it will end.
Alan Alda is sort of sweet as the elderly man who set up the commune in the 1970s, and Justin Theroux plays another caricature of a character after his turn in Your Highness last year. He is fine in the role – when he can be found underneath the layers of hair and beard – but he is nothing special.
The commune is portrayed no differently than in any other film about hippies; free love abounds, as do drugs and strange notions of ‘freedom’. The house is bereft of doors, walking into the bathroom and talking to someone who is using it is nothing to wonder about, nor is giving birth on the porch or living in a tree. The characters are entirely over the top, but either too much or not enough; whatever the case may be, these characters do not work on screen and neither does the threat of the house being demolished or the cosy ending.
Wanderlust was never going to change the world, but Jennifer Aniston has fantastic comedic timing and deadpan delivery that she is not allowed to use in this misguided film about a crisis of careers in the recession. Wanderlust is harmless enough, but it is a long time since anything from the Apatow stable has been seriously funny, which is a problem for films billed as comedies.