LB - Randy Garrison

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3/5/2012 9:01:00 AM
MOVIE REVIEW: Wanderlust delivers a few laughs on tired topic

David Kanowsky
Kudos Movie Critic, The Movie Man

If you are looking for a few laughs in a movie, Wanderlust might be appealing. If you are offended or merely put off by foul language and/or nudity on screen (particularly male nudity) then Wanderlust most likely is not for you.

Wanderlust stars Jennifer Aniston as Linda and Paul Rudd as George, a loving married yuppie couple in New York. They have just bought a fashionable tiny studio apartment in the West Village. But suddenly, George loses his job. Linda has no income to speak of, despite her fervent attempts to cash in on her questionable creative skills. They immediately find themselves unable to pay for the apartment and they can't sell it for anywhere near the price they paid. They abandon the apartment. They abandon New York. They decide to drive to Atlanta to get help from George's brother, Rick.

On the way to Atlanta, they get diverted onto a side road where a peculiar incident (nude man running in front of their car) causes a crackup. They aren't hurt, but the car is disabled. The nudist takes them to shelter - a house where a number of people live in commune style. Everybody there, including the founder, Carvin (Alan Alda), is into a spiritual and metaphysical lifestyle. George and Linda spend the night and the next day. The denizens of the commune help them get their car back on the road and they proceed to Atlanta.

Rick (Ken Marino) is a well-to-do businessman living in a large luxurious home with his wife, who seems like a discard from Stepford. Rick is also obnoxious and George can't take the abuse that Rick has been imposing on him all their lives. George persuades Linda that they should return to the commune and adapt to the simple, loving, sharing, non-materialistic life style. They do go back but George's enthusiasm quickly wanes. He is disgusted by the food, the lack of privacy, the notion of open sex and partner-sharing. Linda loses herself in the culture and becomes fully indoctrinated. George is resisting the advances of the beautiful Eva (Malin Akerman) while the leader of the commune, Seth (Justin Theroux), is anxious to partake of the partner-sharing activity with Linda.

George leaves the commune; Linda stays and there is heartbreak all around. Some turning points occur in Wanderlust at this point. A funny twist is when we find out that Carvin, the aged, wheelchair-bound founder regularly sneaks away to a diner in town to have an extensive meat dinner, as opposed to the vegan diet of the communal dwellers. Alan Alda plays the role of Carvin, on the verge of senility, with great gusto and charm.

In fact all the roles are performed well in Wanderlust. My reservation about the film is that the subject is old. Wanderlust has modern-day cinematic language and a moderate amount of nudity and the cinematography is satisfactory. But stories about hippies, young and overgrown, whether serious or satiric, seem out of date now.

Perhaps Wanderlust can best be enjoyed by viewers too young to remember the fateful '60s - but not too young since it is has an R rating.

Wanderlust is playing at Harkins Sedona 6 Theatres.

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LB - Randy Garrison

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