Wanderlust is one of the latest Apatow productions. Just like the humor – which I will elaborate on later – these productions are hit and miss. When they hit; they hit big. I really liked Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pineapple Express, Knocked Up and Funny People. When they miss though; they miss big. Drillbit Taylor, Year One and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby were just bland and completely unfunny. However, there is a middle ground. Step Brothers, Get him to the Greek and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy are good; not great. This one falls under the middle category. What bothered me the most about this is there was some untapped potential here. It served its purpose as a passable funny comedy, but with some adjustments this could have been more. Maybe not a ton of thought went into it because the other Aptow production coming out later in the year – This is 40 – seems like it’s going to be a hit.
George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jenifer Aniston) are a New York couple who are on the verge of success. He’s a financier, and she is a documentary filmmaker. Everything is going perfectly, but then one-day changes all that. Linda fails to sell her documentary to HBO and George (who brings in the big money) gets fired. When it couldn’t get any worse; they lose their apartment. They then head to Atlanta to live with George’s brother (Ken Marino). His brother is such an interoperable jerk though, that they go to Elysium – a bed and breakfast that they passed through on the way to George’s brothers house. It’s not quite something they’re used to, but in the end both of them agree to give it two weeks.
Let me get the main problem I have out of the way first and foremost. The set up to the story was done well. I also liked when they first arrived at Elysium; it was interesting seeing how they both viewed and handled this whole new environment. But the main story gets lost in random things and subplots to often. Some of those things were alright, but it disrupted the flow in too much of an awkward way. For a whole hour, it’s just a lot of pointless and silly things. Albeit, some of that can be funny; when you get down to it, that was all unnecessary. The “real” story does come back in the 3rd act at least. If everything was more focused on what it was than it could have worked better.
David Wain is the director; he did an okay job. Some attention to detail was actually given here and there. I’m going to be hard on him in some aspects because he also directed Role Models. That was a great comedy and was solid from beginning to end. Watching this made me want to re-visit it again. If you have yet to see it, I highly recommend it. I know he could have done better with this. Like I said; he did put effort into some things. If you compared to Role Models though, Wain dropped the ball in many key details to make Wanderlust as good as Role Models.
The screenplay is good, for the most part. Of course, there are some jokes don’t work; a couple even made me cringe. With that being said, enough consistent laughs came throughout to where not ten minutes went by where I didn’t at least chuckle. There are some big laughs as well that made me laugh really hard. The jokes were far from perfect, but they are better and more consistent than the average comedy nowadays – still hits a rough patch in the middle. David Wain and Ken Marino wrote the script. I don’t know if Marino wrote the stuff for himself, but he got the most laughs out of me. If I saw this again, I wouldn’t laugh though.
Paul Rudd is incredibly likeable. He could never play a villain because no matter what he does – you just couldn’t dislike him. You can make a case that Rudd plays the same kind of character in every one of his movies. Even with that being somewhat true; I’ve never got tired of seeing him. He is good here. Jenifer Aniston isn’t reaching for the stars with her performance, but she delivers her lines very well. Rudd and Aniston had enough chemistry to where they bounced off each other in a charming way. Aside from three, the supporting actors never caught my eye. Those three that did are Malin Akerman (she wasn’t given much to do), Justin Theroux (his interactions were hilarious at times) and Ken Marino (just pure funny).
This is a movie you just can’t hate despite any of its faults. It has something that draws you in. This a good entertaining somewhat funny comedy. The worst thing about it is that it seems as if it was going to be above just a funny comedy. You’ve seen all of the material before and there is a definite pacing problem. One thing that was smartly done is the cameo placed in. I won’t spoil it, but it caught me off guard. It’s not up with the Bill Murray cameo in Zombieland – that was just pure genius – but it brings a big laugh. If you’re looking for a fun time and like Aptow type comedies, then you will find plenty of things to enjoy. I did forget about it right after my viewing, so not special, but you can do loads worse.