Posted November 4, 2011 by Ben Winkley in Films
 
 

Wanderlust


The One Where Jennifer Aniston Finally Carries A

The One Where Jennifer Aniston Finally
Carries A Funny Movie.

Jennifer Aniston seems to have been making bad
romcoms for even longer than Friends was on TV. With the notable exception of Office Space she’s bequeathed
cinema-goers a body of work notable only by its nagging low quality and
ill-starred matches with a succession of inappropriate leading men. Adam Sandler. Vince Vaughn. Steve Zahn for the love of all that is
holy.

And this,
despite her being a pretty good comic actress. Admittedly, she rolls out the
same old ditzy kook a bit too often, but it’s been enough to ensure she’s the
only one of the former New York flat-sharers to have anything resembling a
decent career. Let’s have a moment here in remembrance of Matthew Perry…

But lo,
here’s Wanderlust, in which Jen not only gets to grapple with a script full of
genuine belly laughs, but also recreate some of that old Central Perk magic
with her latest leading man, fellow Friends alumnus Paul Rudd.

It doesn’t
hurt that they start out in the familiar territory of lower Manhattan. George
(Rudd) and Linda (Aniston) sign off on a ‘mini-loft’ that achieves those twin
totems of NY living, being both tiny and expensive. No sooner have the
housewarming guests staggered out than George gets downsized and, what with
Linda being a bit of a flake, they head off for Atlanta, where George’s brother
has promised him a job.

Happenstance
leads them to stop over at Elysium, a commune in deepest Georgia, where they
get a little high and generally have a wild old night. And when Paul’s brother
turns out to be a complete dick – probably the most complete dick of a brother
since him out of Weird Science
they end up moving back to Elysium. Just for a bit, like, to see how it goes.

The commune
is full of every clichéd hippy you can possibly imagine – acid casualties,
free-lovers, feminists, didgeridoo players, earth mothers – but that doesn’t
matter, because there’s nothing easier than laughing at hippies.

And
laughing at these hippies is very easy indeed.

As you’d
expect from the Judd Apatow school,
this is low, bawdy humour, with knob gags (dick jokes, for our American
readers), comedy drug experiences, slapstick and unclothed bodies to the fore.
No nudity for the leading lady though, despite what you may have read. Gents,
it’s never gonna happen.

The cast is
grotesquely excellent, particularly Todd
Barry
as a wine-making nudist, along with Ken Marino and Michaela
Watkins
as George’s brother and his Desperate-Housewives-of-Atlanta wife,
all margaritas before noon and simmering resentment at her lot. Rudd also
throws himself into it with some gusto, all the while channeling the
‘aw-shucks’ spirit of vintage John
Cusack
. While we’re at it, let’s have a moment here in remembrance of
John Cusack…

Everyone
looks like they’re having a scream, even Alan
Alda
. And it’s got a bloopers
reel over the closing credits, the sign of a confident comedy.

So don’t be
uptight, maaan. Free your mind and the laughs will follow.


Ben Winkley