Due to lengthy turnarounds it’s hard for Hollywood to ever truly get its filmy fingers on the pulse. If a film aims to be relevant, by the time of release, the likelihood is it’ll achieve little more than retrospect. A case in point: the global financial crisis. Films as disparate as Margin Call, In Time and (allegedly) The Dark Knight Rises all comment on the meltdown just as happier times look to eke around the corner. Wanderlust, a comedy about the other 1%, might just be the most timely of them all.
A New York couple, middle management suit George and wannabe documentary maker Linda, find themselves reluctantly upping sticks to the Mid-West when George is made redundant. On the way to cultural purgatory, George and Linda stumble across an ‘intentional community’ and spend the night smoking weed with a house full of oddballs and eccentrics. The next day, with little to lose, the Manhattanites decide to extend their stay indefinitely. The question is, can they cope trading HDTV for LSD and free refills for free love?
A faintly amusing sidenote of labelling the corporate Scrooge McDuck’s the 1% was the very people doing so were a single digit percent themselves. Those sitting in tents, not showering, playing guitars (badly) and singing (poorly) in the Occupy movement number as many as those sitting on yachts, sipping Cristal in Monte Carlo.
The majority of the populace of the developed world, however, were happy(ish) instead to go to work, earn some money, buy things they like, eat some nice food, not think too much about the bad stuff and wonder at the marvels the 21st Century has to offer.
But, and here’s the point, a large section of the majority, while reluctant to do anything about it, side firmly against the money grabbing per cent. Acutely aware of this, Wanderlust aims and hits its audience soundly, taking care to make sure that, while the ‘hippies’ are the target of the laughs, the industrialists remain the recipients of the boos. The vegan, nudist, sex freaks may not be right but at least they’re trying.
Away from the social commentary and vague statements about socialism and capitalism there’s an amount (not too big, not too small) of fun to be had in the structured set pieces. In these set pieces is some satisfactory comedy work by leads Aniston and Rudd. As the free spirited Linda, tripping balls and getting her tatties out, Aniston gets a chance to reign in her ‘world is against me’ look she perpetually carries around of late. For the most part she takes that chance, delivering one of her better performances. The definition of faint praise there.
Opposite her, Rudd illustrates his unchallenging likeability. One solo scene in particular shines a spotlight on the actor’s Anchorman-esque improv skills and potty mouth, demonstrating exactly why he gets fairly constant work in routine fare such as this and the directors’s previous effort, Role Models.
And routine would be an accurate one word description of Wanderlust. For every joke that hits, one or two fall by the wayside. For every character that’s believable, one or two muster nothing more than stereotypes. If you buy a ticket this Friday, you’ll laugh, you’ll slightly invest in the story and people and by the following Friday you’ll have forgotten pretty much everything about it.
Frequent visitors to this site’s film reviews will know we don’t do star ratings. But if we did, Wanderlust is the most solid 3 star film since, oh, let’s say, Role Models. Like the Occupy movement, it’s hard to dislike, but you get the feeling only those actually involved believe it will have any relevance in years to come.