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Wanderlust: Wet Hot American Hippies

by Rachel Stein February 24, 2012 6:00 am
<I>Wanderlust</i>: Wet Hot American Hippies

David Wain's Wanderlust is neither the most original nor compelling movie ever made, let alone of the year so far. It is, however, laugh-out-loud funny (and not just in a raunchy way) and probably the only film in 2012 that will reference the Nintendo Power Glove. Starring Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston as a New York City couple who find themselves living on a rural commune, Wanderlust's concept is about as complicated and creative as Role Models, Wain's 2008 movie that I personally found to be surprisingly hilarious. These days, I've been such a fan of Childrens Hospital that my expectations for Wanderlust were fairly high -- even factoring in that the movie had been postponed from its fall release date to February, which is typically regarded as the time of year that studios stick... let's just say their "less than Oscar-worthy" movies -- and I was still impressed with it. While the film is in no way perfect, several major components make it into a success:

Paul Rudd
I'll be the first to admit that I am still charmed by Rudd in every role he plays. As one of the ten people in the world who actually saw Our Idiot Brother, this movie basically takes his flower child character there and turns it into a whole lifestyle. (I actually hoped/expected for Ned to make a cameo, which would have been really meta and awesome. Actors should really cameo in their own movie as a character they played in a different movie more.) Rudd plays his character, George, as a straight man trying to navigate his way through the crazy hippie lifestyle for most of Wanderlust with the exception of one truly amazing mirror scene where he gives himself a pep talk. I won't spoil it for you, but I've heard it referred to as the comic version of Robert De Niro's "You talkin' to me?" scene from Taxi Driver, and I won't argue against that.

Jennifer Aniston
Look, Aniston wasn't exactly breaking new ground or anything in this movie, but her character was likable, fun and well-rounded enough that she held her own as a lead. She didn't exactly play a stereotypical archetype of a woman -- neither her classic klutzy single gal, nor her more-recent man-eater persona -- and frankly, that's all I really hoped from her. I mean, who am I to refuse a Friends reunion? (Wanderlust is also a The Object of My Affection get-together as well, but that's not exactly a hard sell.)

The Outlying Cast
Speaking of reunions, you could play a mean game of Bingo with all of the familiar faces who crop up in Wanderlust. Considering it was co-written by Ken Marino, Party Down, Reno 911! and the aforementioned Childrens Hospital lovers have a lot to look forward to. Personally, my favorite actress to randomly pop up was Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under's Claire Fisher), who delivered one of her best comedic performances in years.

The Hippie Jokes
If you're going to set a movie on a commune, you best brush up on your granola jokes... and Wain clearly did his research. Wanderlust features several great drug scenes, a fun acoustic guitar session and serious male full-frontal nudity. Sure, you can predict everything that's going to happen in the movie based on the trailer (and probably the synopsis alone), but what Wain clearly wants is to catch you off-guard in a whole 'nother way -- and he definitely succeeds.

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