Directed and co-written by David Wain (2001’s “Wet Hot American Summer”), “Wanderlust” is a cute commune comedy, starring ever-reliable mainstream comic mainstays, Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd.
What’s amazing is that it works…it’s surprisingly funny and strangely relevant.
Jennifer and Paul play Linda and George, a struggling Manhattan couple, who make the mistake of investing their life-savings into the ownership of a “micro-loft” in the West Village on the eve of the Great Recession. A scene later, George is jobless and Linda’s documentary filmmaker dream is punctured by nasty HBO execs.
Desperate, they leave their worthless micro-loft, pack up their economy car with their meager belongings and ‘60’s - ‘70’s soft rock CDs, heading to the affluent home of George’s brother Rick (script co-writer Ken Marino) in suburban Georgia.
Along the way, they find themselves lost in the backwoods and confronting the full-frontal nudity of Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio), a member of an “intentional community,” (aka,“ commune”) called, “Elysium.” Fearing a psycho killer, George and Linda move in rapid reverse away from Wayne, flipping their car upside down. Soon, they are soothed and sucked into the loving arms of the Elysiumites.
Before long, the pot and hallucinogens have had their affect and the urban yuppies are transforming into hippies. A few abusive insults from Rick, and George convinces Linda to give the Elysium lifestyle a shot.
Rudd is a comedic natural and works well with Aniston with the onslaught of counter-culture jokes, many involving Wayne’s penis and the commune’s embarrassing lack of privacy.
The Elysium gang are an entertaining, though motley crew. Chief among them is Seth (Justin Theroux) who, beneath his love-and-peace façade, is quite the competitive Alpha male. That’s evident in a guitar play-off with George and the use of free-love to steal Linda for himself. Alan Alda supplies a few laughs as Carvin, the ancient founder of the cult and surreptitious meat-eater among the vegans.
“Wanderlust” is an amiable trip back to the Woodstock era, as it tries to connect to these days of Obama. See it before it fades away.