“Wanderlust” is a new comedy film from the makers of “Role Models.” The movie follows married metropolitan couple George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) as they explore a new lifestyle after being forced out of their New York City studio apartment by financial troubles.
The film opens with the couple’s excitement that they will now be able to purchase their own apartment. George and Linda love the city, and they are thrilled to finally own a piece of it for themselves, encouraged by a real estate agent who doesn’t seem to know too much about her field. They purchase a tiny studio apartment, move in, and from there, their lives take a turn for the worse. Linda’s new documentary is not picked up by any television stations, and George’s company is shut down by the FBI and he loses his job. The couple attempts to sell their apartment, but is informed by the real estate agent that the value has plummeted and they will not be able to do so.
Financially ruined and left with no other options, they decide to move in with George’s obnoxious brother who lives in Atlanta. On the way there, they come across a Utopian commune and spend the night. George and Linda are taken by the idyllic group, who refer to themselves as an “intentional community” and practice veganism, free love and hallucinogenic drug use. The couple leaves after their first night at the commune to stay with George’s brother and his wife. Due to the brother’s verbally abusive, abhorrent nature, they hate living there and quickly decide to return to the commune and give this foreign lifestyle a shot.
The thematic question explored in “Wanderlust” is an old one: What happens when young urban professionals trade in their city life for a rural one? Will they be able to deal with a new way of thinking, including a lack of sexual commitment in their marriage? The film manages to capture just about every “hippie” cliche in the book through the depiction of the commune, right down to interpretive dancing and group “truth circles” during which feelings are discussed to a painful extent.
While the beginning of the film was somewhat promising, it seems to lose its footing very quickly. From there, everything about the film feels utterly forced. Rudd and Aniston do not make a convincing couple, the commune they stay at is too stereotypical to feel genuine, and the humor is strained and awkward. It was truly painful to watch. The majority of “Wanderlust” is horrifically terrible and the brief comedic moments fail to make up for it.