Wanderlust (2012)

Director: David Wain
Writer: David Wain, Ken Marino
Cast: Paul RuddJennifer AnistonJustin TherouxAlan AldaMalin Akerman, Ken Marino, Joe Lo TruglioKathryn HahnJordan PeeleKeegan-Michael KeyRay Liotta
Seen on: 9.4.2017

Linda (Jennifer Aniston) and George (Paul Rudd) are a young, urban couple set for success. Linda expects her documentary to be financed, George expects to be promoted. But life doesn’t play along and both find themselves without a job but with an expensive apartment they can’t afford anymore. Desperate, George agrees to work for his brother Rick (Ken Marino), even though that means moving across the country. But on the way, Linda and George coincidentally spend a night in a commune led by the charismatic Seth (Justin Theroux). Initially taken aback by the alterantive way of life, Linda and George quickly start to take to the lifestyle and decide to give it a try for real.

Wanderlust is pretty much how you’d expect it to be: not particularly smart or insightful or novel, but it’s often quite funny in a rather stupid way.

At its heart, Wanderlust is a conservative film: George and Linda may be intrigued by the alternative lifestyle in the commune, but the film quickly makes it clear that the commune life is in no way better than participating fully in mainstream society. Actually the very fact that these people believe that a life outside the entrepreneurial demands of the marketplace may be possible makes them not only suspect, but laughable.

So it comes as no surprise that in the end, after George and Linda gave things a try for a little bit, they return to the liberal, heteronormative, self-made entrepreneur life they came from, safe in the knowledge that that lifestyle is definitely the best lifestyle and that any attempt to think about other ways of living together than neoliberal performance obsession is a thing for weirdos (and not in the nice sense) and the hopelessly naive. It’s definitely not to be taken seriously.

But I guess actually naive would have been to expect a film of this kind to actually have progressive politics. What I expected was to cringe a lot about the film and to not find it funny in the least. In that regard I was thankfully mistaken: it made me cringe way less than I thought it would and it actually did make me laugh a couple of times.

Wanderlust is not a film I will return to, I guess, but it did make me laugh and made for an entertaining evening. Also it allowed me to ogle Justin Theroux which never hurts.

Summarizing: It’s pretty much what you’d expect: okay.

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