Wanderlust 2012 ★★½

The most recent film from the team responsible for Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten and Role Models, Wanderlust reteams actor Paul Rudd with writer/director David Wain (co-written with other frequent collaborator and actor Ken Marino) for a comedy about a "normal" couple who find themselves embracing the hippie commune lifestyle. The couple is portrayed by Rudd, of course, and in a surprising casting choice, Jennifer Aniston.

Aniston certainly isn't one who you'd expect to see in the kind of raunch-filled comedy that the Wain/Rudd duo is known for, but after her popular supporting role in last year's Horrible Bosses it seemed that she wanted to continue to defy the expectations that she had built after a decade of one safe and generic romantic comedy after another. I admire Aniston for trying to step out of her comfort zone and you can tell that she's trying really hard to adjust herself to this kind of comedy, but it all came out really forced to me and I just didn't feel that she was right at all in this role. She started out alright, but as the film progresses into the more wild antics of the commune that her and Rudd find themselves in, she appears more and more like a fish out of water.

Rudd, on the other hand, is right at home and the idea of playing him as the straight man reacting to an endless series of extravagant characters is one that will never fail. He's the ultimate reactionary comedian in film today, and this is him at his prime. As him and Wain did in Role Models, they utilize his dry sarcastic wit brilliantly but also make sure to give him some occasional dramatic moments that he lands as well.

I feel that Rudd is the most gifted actor working in comedy currently and this demonstrates further proof of that. He kills with his reactions, but he's also great on his own as well, particularly in a scene of him endlessly talking to himself in a mirror, trying to pump himself up for a sexual encounter, which I'll be surprised if anything manages to top it as the funniest scene of the year for me. Rudd is on fire and makes the film worth watching for fans of this kind of comedy, but I have to admit that outside of that moment there weren't too many that really had me laughing hard.

Wanderlust is a short film and one that flew by with a breeze and kept me chuckling throughout, but I can't say it's as memorably funny as something like Role Models was. The characters within the commune are all awkwardly fun at first, but they quickly wear out their welcome and the whole thing is loaded with the kind of dull cliches that you'd expect from a comedy mocking this culture. Of course the plot itself is as conventional as it can be, and ends up exactly where you know it will before you even start watching the film, but Rudd and Wain do there best to keep it enjoyable enough throughout. This isn't anything special or anything to think about after it's over, but it's light and fun enough to enjoy and kill some time with.

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