Friday, September 28, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Wanderlust (2012) **

R, 98 min.
Director: David Wain
Writers: David Wain, Ken Marino
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman, Alan Alda, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Kathryn Hahn, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Lauren Ambrose, Michaela Watkins, Jordan Peele, Linda Lavin

I often hear about the poor choices Jennifer Aniston makes for movie roles. It’s true. She’s a gifted actress who can’t choose a worthwhile project to star in to save her soul. I think this might be a reflection of sexism in Hollywood, however. Not because she doesn’t get the chance to play good roles. She’s powerful enough to command her own career choices. But, how come no one is criticizing the equally talented Paul Rudd for the poor choices he makes in picking projects a good deal of the time?

Don’t get me wrong. I love Paul Rudd, and you’ve got a better shot of hitting a good one with his filmography than you do with Aniston’s. However, he’s been in some clunkers, and this one is his lost puppy. In fact, Rudd and Aniston have hit a low like this together before in Nicholas Hytner’s ill conceived “The Object of My Affection”, a rom com that decided it would be a good idea to have the pregnant Aniston fall in love with the gay Rudd. I really don’t know where they thought they were going to get with that one. With “Wanderlust” the prospects are better, but the end result still isn’t any good.

Rudd is actually the best thing about this movie. He’s just about the only element the filmmakers get right. He’s perfect as a New Yorker down on his luck who decides he and his wife should try out commune life once he looses his job. Aniston is not right for his wife. I buy her as the New Yorker, but not as the hippie she becomes. This role needed someone a little more like Kristen Wiig, who can pull off both the uptight New Yorker and the newly reformed bohemian.

Different casting wouldn’t have saved the movie though. The idea was sound, but the execution just isn’t that funny. Coming from the minds of former cast members of the sketch comedy show “The State”, it seems the filmmakers don’t take their ideas far enough. The guys from The State play local news anchors, and their comedy in those scenes strike the right cord, but the rest of the movie plays it too safe. It’s too formulaic. I never believed this couple would ever seriously consider living in a commune and the nasty personalities of the commune members reared themselves too obviously too early. These people needed to be wacky, but they were merely different from “normal”, which was far too normal for a romantic comedy.


Lea said...

We bought this movie on Apple TV. Nothing really awesome about the film. I don't know why but I always see the personality of "Rachel" (Friends) in Jennifer Aniston whatever movie she makes. :)

Andrew Wells said...

Aniston is an actor type that doesn't specialize in presenting different characters. This is not a criticism and is not a reflection of her talent. Beauty often has trouble being presented in any other way than they might naturally come across to other people. Plus the industry makes it very hard for these types of actors to break away from their character type. I think she did a very good job of shedding the "Rachel" image in last year's comedy Horrible Bosses.