Thursday, March 1, 2012

Man on Film: Wanderlust

Objectively, David Wain's feature-length directorial career has been a bit of a mixed bag. While Wet Hot American Summer has attained the much deserved cachet of being a cult comedy classic, The Ten was inconsistent with its thematically-linked sketch structure lending itself to relatively long stretches of film that work significantly less well than others. Role Models was a step back in the right direction after the misstep that was The Ten, marking perhaps his most conventional comedy, but it lacks the unhinged irreverence that runs roughshod through Wet Hot

All of that brings us to the latest film from The State-alum, Wanderlust. Teaming with former college roommate and frequent collaborator Ken Marino, Wain's fourth film takes a relatively normal if not slightly uptight New York couple--Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston as George and Linda--who have been reduced to moving to Atlanta after he loses his job and her documentary on penguins with testicular cancer doesn't get picked up by HBO. After getting waylaid for a night at Elysium, an "intentional community," they go to stay with George's brother Rick (Ken Marino) with whom George is going to work. Upon finding out that this job is essentially doing data entry for a port-a-john company and finding his brother unbearable, George and Linda go back to Elysium to give it a two-week trial run in an attempt to find happiness.

What follows is an occasionally funny comedy that obviously plays upon the concept of throwing two normal people into a hippie commune. There are seriously funny parts. Justin Theroux is legitimately funny as Seth, the quasi-leader of the commune, and his passive-aggressive rivalry with George is great. Sure, he's essentially reprising his turn as Jesus in The Ten, but he does it well. Every scene that Ken Marino is in, he kills, and the same can be said about Michaela Watkins, who plays Rick's hilariously miserable and detached suburbanite wife, Marisa. The naturally likable Paul Rudd is somewhat limited by what the role calls for--as he is once again playing the straight-laced, uptight husband/boyfriend--but does get a chance to steal the show with his pre-coital pep talk in the bathroom mirror. His diarrheal dirty talk is so creepy and disgusting that it seems likely to be memorable years from now.

Unfortunately, much of the rest of the film doesn't work quite as well. This starts with Aniston, who is simply out of her depths when thrown into the deep end with some of these comedic talents. So much screen time is devoted to showcasing her, yet she is easily the least funny actress in the ensemble, which is saying something when Malin Akerman (pleasant, but not especially funny, despite the fact that she is almost exclusively in comedies) and Lauren Ambrose (who isn't bad, per se, just isn't particularly funny) are in the film. Talents like the aforementioned Michaela Watkins, Kerri Kenney-Silver, and the woefully underused Kathryn Hahn are here, sure, but it seems a shame that they aren't more prominently featured.

More importantly, though, Wanderlust just isn't quite funny enough. It has its moments, but they are slightly too few and just a little too spread apart.

What is awesome is Ken Marino's Macy Gray impression. Holy shit.

And since this is what is done here, let's take a gander at the Wanderlust trailer.

The shitty thing is, there are clips from this red-band trailer that aren't in the film and are actually funnier than what made it in, which is the somewhat worrisome aspect of what the heavily screen-tested Apatow productions hazard in seeing if the rubes in Peoria will go for something.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...