Wanderlust has a few things going for it: one, it reunites Paul Rudd with his Role Models director David Wain so much hilarity can be expected. Two, it stars Jennifer Aniston, whose marquee track record isn’t so great but whose star wattage never seems to fade (this is important because it means the movie will make back its cost no matter how it fares at the box office). And three, it has a novel premise (well, sort of) which has all the potential for a great comic caper.
But (and this is a BIG Rush Limbaugh size “but”), the movie never gets there. Sometimes you think it’s about to get there and then – for no apparent reason at all – the movie detours, backtracks, and decides to rehash jokes and comic situations we’ve all seen a billion times before in smarter, better movies.
Here’s what it’s about: Linda and George (Aniston and Rudd) are a young, yuppie couple trudging along in Manhattan, pretty much just going through the motions of what a successful modern life looks like when things fall apart (stupid economy!). They buy a new home, after which life sort of comes apart: George loses his job, Linda decides she doesn’t know what she wants and then through the magic of only-in-the-movies coincidences they end up on a hippie commune where everything the know about life, love, sex, and each other is challenged.
The problem with the movie is not that it’s not funny. It is, and frequently so. But it insists upon so many tired (and retired) hippie clichés that the punchlines appear before many of the jokes do, which ends up burying some real comic gold. The performances from all the lead plays, however, are top notch, especially Rudd and Justin Theroux.
Aniston, for her part, manages well by playing herself perfectly. How could she not?