Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Aniston Effect

Wanderlust: written by David Wain and Ken Marino; directed by David Wain; starring Paul Rudd (George Gergenblatt), Jennifer Aniston (Linda Gergenblatt), Justin Theroux (Seth), and Alan Alda (Carvin) (2012): Some day, years from now, someone will write a computer program that will remove Jennifer Aniston from all movies not entitled Horrible Bosses or The Good Girl and replace her with someone funnier. Anyone funnier.

Actually, funnier isn't even necessary: we just need someone who isn't a black hole that devours all laughs when the camera is on her. Her film career is only rivalled by Ed Helms' last two seasons on The Office, in which he's become The Man Where Laughs Go To Die. It's as if the two of them somehow generate a malign radiation known as Unlaughter.

Wanderlust comes from many of the same writers and directors and actors who gave us the brilliant Wet Hot American Summer, a fine parody of pretty much every teen movie cliche. Here, they're a little hamstrung by the dictates of a conventional narrative, though there are still some satisfyingly bizarre moments. Also, you know, Aniston.

Paul Rudd and Aniston play a down-on-their-luck New York couple who, through various misadventures, end up staying the night at Elysium, a hippie commune turned bed-and-breakfast near Atlanta. Things seem much more appealing there than back in the real world, so they end up joining the commune. And things get wacky. Well, they already are wacky -- David Wain and Ken Marino love the wacky. Wackier. Things get wackier.

There are a few dead moments not caused by Jennifer Aniston, along with a final plot twist that requires one character to suddenly become a hypocritical jerk without any development of said jerkiness. The cast is a lot of fun, the movie's nice and short, and there's a weirdly compelling sub-plot involving a nudist who's written a political thriller. If only Jennifer Aniston were not the female lead! Lightly recommended.

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