Wanderlust lays all its cards on the table in the very first scene.
Wanderlust lays all
its cards on the table in the very first scene. The image of a nervous Paul Rudd, bickering with Jennifer
Anniston over the purchase of a New York flat is enough to promise the
light-hearted, fish-out-of-water Rom-Com that viewers who’ve seen the trailer
will be expecting. The scene even comes complete with an odd-ball Estate Agent
– foreshadowing plenty more quirky characters along the way – and some
fast-paced, witty dialogue that suggests the film might actually be quite
funny. No surprises, then? Well, perhaps the biggest surprise is just how good
a job the film does of making a worn-down formula fresh and entertaining … at
least for the first half, anyway.
George and Linda
(Rudd and Anniston) are a young couple looking to take their next step in life
by moving to New York, leaving behind Atlanta and George’s vulgar, unpleasant
brother Rick (played brilliantly by Ken Marino). However, after George
loses his job and Linda’s documentary doesn’t get taken up they are forced to
make the journey home, during which they stumble across a strange little
commune lead by the bearded, guru-like Seth (Justin Theroux). Cue the
predictable entourage of bizarre characters and awkward culture clashes, topped
off with a fair amount of nudity and slapstick humour. It may sound like the
recipe for a fairly uninspiring comedy, but it is initially well-executed and
sharp enough to be entertaining.
Despite the fact
that many of the characters are stereotypes, the script is smart and the film
has been edited to maximise the laughs. One memorable sequence sees George and
Linda driving back home after their failed attempt at living in New York. The
shot stays the same, but the scene changes quickly to show them singing, then
arguing, then discussing their options, before finally arguing again. This is
one of the many examples of how director David Wain has gotten the most
out of the script by combining it with fast-paced editing and solid direction.
the lively pacing of the film’s opening Act quickly starts to fizzle out around
the halfway point. This change begins around the time George and Linda move
into the commune, as the film’s previously fresh and varied plot is replaced by
a situation that becomes stale and repetitive. While this ‘living in the
commune’ segment – which forms the film’s main chunk – is entertaining at
first, it isn’t long before it feels like one joke that has been stretched to
breaking point. The film also begins to lurch into predictable Rom-Com
territory, and this is something that only gets worse as Wanderlust heads
towards its cheesy, disappointing climax.
For a film that
gets off to such a promising start, it’s a shame Wanderlust eventually joins
the ranks of the forgettable. The opening Act still allows it stand out from
the rest, but only just.