Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wanderlust (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway 

If you like your films exclusively silly, and I mean really silly in a genuine and unapologetic way, try "Wanderlust". This film is unique because it shouldn't work, for the very fact that it is a total cartoon, a one joke wonder, or a long Saturday Night Live skit, but work it does. 
"Wanderlust" succeeds in spite of itself.

Comic Everyman Paul Rudd is George and   the self deprecatingly cute Jennifer Aniston plays Linda---two smartphone sweethearts. George and Linda are exhausted by the New York rat race and want to try their hand at more peaceful pastures.

After a disasterous short stay with George's ultra-obnoxious brother Rick (Ken Marino ) the couple spies a B & B on a night road that seems to magically appear. Yikes! An odd looking nude body that looks like a walking sausage, jumps from out of the bushes! 

George and Linda are cocooned with a bunch of hopping, hemped-up and hairy hippies that resemble living examples of Robert Crumb cartoons. There is a lot of kooky dancing and gesticulating here, that will have you laughing in its very persistence. Justin Theroux is Seth, the comically self righteous Guru who is always in bliss. Malin Akerman plays Eva, the free love sex goddess and Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under)  is Almond, spiritually serious and good natured. Coupled with Paul Rudd, Theroux is a riot, especially in the all too earnest guitar scene, not too mention an ever present didgeridoo.

These commune dwellers are more sensimillia-ishly slappy than The Three Stooges. The first half hour is a zany giggle-fest that disarms the logic centers and hits you in the gut where the jitter and jump of true comedy exists, yet as the story goes on there isn't much for the "Mr. Naturals" to do. The film gives way to logic, the confines of a middle and a romantic comedy ending and becomes less spontaneous and less funny.
Still, there are some outrageous moments here and many of them. Paul Rudd is wonderful as the piercingly sarcastic straight man to all this New Age nincompoopery. 
Ken Marino steals the show as George's narcissistic and  idiotic brother. Rick moves in an extreme borderland of  "sound and fury, signifying nothing" and that is why he is the most entertaining. 

I must admit that Alan Alda as the commune founder, portrays the weakest character in the film. Grey-bearded, spacey and curmudgeonly, Alda's role gets a little tedious as he forgets his friends' names for the tenth time in the film. Alda's 'Carvin', keeps repeating this like a Who's on First bit and this segment is probably the only truly  unfunny part you'll find. Carvin who is clearly a watered down facsimile  of George Carlin, would have fared better if he was injected with some of Carlin's verbal gusto.

By the end,  some stimulating irreverence weakens to a flimsy Caddyshack of quick jokes that shelter a traditional romance.

Despite this bad trip however, the film's  first forty minutes are worth forgetting the munchies for. The initial beginning has a Midnite Movie feel that is refreshing and confident. Wanderlust's wickedness is manic and brave and more so called 'comedies' should set out on its fierce, non-pandering path.

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