Wanderlust is a movie I would have loved when I was 13. Its sexuality alone is enough to please any blossoming young teen, but its pervasive language (also of the sexual nature) is icing on the cake. It’s stupid, immature and filled to the brim with innuendo and smut, everything required of a movie for teens with such a narrow minded focus. The teenager inside of me is yelling at me to loosen up, but my brain has evolved past laughing at such childish fodder. The dictionary definition of the word “wanderlust” is “a very strong or irresistible impulse to travel.” After watching Wanderlust, you’ll want to travel as far away from any theater playing it as you possibly can.
The film follows George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston), a married couple who are forced to leave New York after George is canned from his job and Linda’s documentary about penguins with testicular cancer (hardy har) is rejected by HBO. At first, they move in with George’s brother, Rick (Ken Marino), but he begins to annoy George and they hop on the road. Eventually, they end up at a bed and breakfast called Elysium, which turns out to be a rural commune whose hippy inhabitants practice “free love” and pacifism. Although hesitant at first, the two decide to give it a shot after a fun night of partying, but the instability of such a life comes at a price and it begins to threaten their marriage.
Wanderlust is about as bad as comedies come and, though early in the year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it reappear on my “Worst of” list in December. It takes everything that is mindless and moronic about comedies these days and wraps it into one painful experience. This is most exemplified in its lazy writing that relies heavily on exaggerated stereotypes to garner laughs. The hippies in this commune, for instance, are unaware of the “futuristic” world we live in—their knowledge only of past generation hardware like VHS players and cassette tapes a running gag—and they sit around delving into all kinds of hallucinogenic drugs, which of course leads to yet another derivative drug trip scene with a character who isn’t used to the effects. The film also throws some nudity into the mix fairly early on. With society’s increasing promiscuity, it should come as no surprise that movies are getting less prude about nudity, but the mere sight of a penis isn’t funny anymore (if it ever was at all). It feels like writers David Wain and Ken Marino, though well into their 40’s, would still be the boys snickering in the back of the classroom during a sexual education class in high school. Convincing evidence like that and the fact that the film follows your typical, predictable movie narrative forces me to believe that creative writing wasn’t their strong suit in school.
If you’re familiar with some of Wain’s past work, however, you should know what you’re getting yourself into. This is the same guy responsible for the atrocious Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten, the former of which may very well be one of the most inept comedies I’ve ever sat through. Aside from Role Models (even the worst filmmakers are bound to accidentally make something good), this guy has pumped out some of the worst, most nonsensical pieces of garbage (on the big and small screen) in recent years. His actors always make passionate and dedicated deliveries of their lines, but it means little when the lines they’re reciting have been written by someone who so rarely strings together something funny to say.
The characters in Wanderlust are annoying, both hippy and otherwise, and their journeys are unconvincing. Upon arriving at Elysium, for instance, Linda protests that there aren’t any doors on the house—a small issue in the big scheme of things—but after having just one song sung to her on guitar by a fast fingered hippy, she’s pooping in the yard and participating in topless protests. The worst part of this movie, however, comes from Paul Rudd in a prolonged sequence where he’s staring in the mirror talking himself up, stating what he’s going to do sexually to Eva (Malin Akerman) after getting permission from his wife. It’s not funny the first ten seconds it goes on, much less the five minutes it continues. It’s one of the most degrading and embarrassing things Rudd has ever done and he was in Over Her Dead Body. Wanderlust has a moment or two of brief enjoyment; perhaps a minute or so in total. Its other 96 minutes are unwatchable. You decide whether that’s worth your time.
Wanderlust receives 0.5/5