A comedy No, Jennifer Aniston’s latest movie is a boring, boorish stinker
Last updated at 11:26 PM on 1st March 2012
Academy Awards week provided a couple of timely insights into why so few Hollywood movies win Oscars.
Wanderlust is co-written, co-produced and directed by David Wain, who had a minor hit four years ago with Role Models.
It starts off competently as a social satire for the economic downturn. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, two likeable actors who have worked together before in The Object Of My Affection, are George and Linda, buying their first apartment together in New York.
Woeful: Aniston and Rudd in Wanderlust, which lurches from hippie cliche to puerile nastiness
It’s so tiny that the estate agent insists on calling it not a studio apartment but a ‘micro-loft’. They move in, as George’s office job looks safe, and Linda’s about to present a natural history film project to HBO.
But George is fired, HBO doesn’t feel that a film about penguins dying of testicular cancer is sufficiently ‘feelgood’, and our heroes can’t keep up their mortgage payments on their Manhattan bolt-hole.
So they drive south to Georgia, where George’s boorish, tasteless but successful brother has offered him a job. But they stop off at the Elysium guest house.
That turns out to be a hippie commune, in a house owned by a jolly old guy in a wheelchair (Alan Alda) and ruled by an alpha male (Justin Theroux), who is meant to be attractive but struck me as alarmingly creepy.
It is at this point that the film careers off the rails and into a ditch of its own devising.
Hippie chic: A fireside chat in Wanderlust fails to be either cutting edge or the slightest bit hilarious
A social comedy about the downturn turns into a film poking fun at hippies, which is about as cutting-edge and hilarious as a movie satirising the economic policies of Michael Foot.
A film about penguins dying of testicular cancer might even be preferable.
Then the story takes a disastrous liking to what it finds in the ditch. Presumably at the suggestion of the film’s co- producer, the unappetising Judd Apatow, penis and poo jokes multiply like bacteria.
The low-point arrives with George doing a foul-mouthed pre-sex routine in front of a mirror that’s a cringeworthy rip-off of Robert De Niro’s ‘You looking at me’ turn in Taxi Driver.
We are then asked to believe that the hitherto sensible Linda is seduced by the vegan, drug-taking, free love lifestyle, which the film-makers belatedly start arguing is a Good Thing.
By now, the film’s in its death throes. Neither perceptive nor funny, it’s just a mass of unbelievable characters in a demeaning search for a feelgood finale.
There is indeed a happy ending, but only because it arrives just before one has caused oneself incurable brain damage by banging one’s head on the seat in front in frustration at the wasted opportunities and pathetic attempts to please the lowest common denominator of American teenager.