With the current economic problems and debates over the downsides of big business, this might be the time for a reflection of the non-mateiral, communal, peace and love values of the hippie generation. Too bad you won't find any of that in Wanderlust, a pretty aimless comedy.

George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are a fairly typical New York married couple who run into horrible luck: Right after buying a "micro-loft" ("It's a studio apartment!"), George's job is shut down by the F.B.I. and Linda's documentary is rejected by HBO. And the real estate agent who pushed them to buy their micro-loft tells them it's already worth far less than what they paid for it. So they head to Atlanta, where George can get a job working for his truly obnoxious brother Rick (Ken Marino). On the way to Rick's, George and Linda wind up at a hippie commune ("It's not a commune. It's an intentional community") called Elysium, where the odd-but-fun people share everything and live with nature. After leaving, George gets sick of his brother pretty quickly, so he and Linda decide to go live at Elysium.

Unfortunately, George gets pretty tired of Elysium pretty fast, from the lack of any doors or privacy (as shown in the picture below) to the vegan lifestyle to the nudist author (Joe Lo Trugglio) who's always reading George parts of his novel. It doesn't help that Seth (Justin Theroux), the de facto leader of the commune, seems to be showing up George every chance he gets. And to make things yet worse, Linda loves it there! Then there's the issue of free love, which seesm fine for Linda and Seth but not for George and the beautiful Eva (Malin Ackerman). And then there's the evil corporation out to steal the commune's land, the burned-out hippie (Alan Alda) who can't find the deed, and lots of oddball characters and gross-out jokes.

Wanderlust was written by Ken Marino and David Wain, who both have substantial experience with sketch and improvised comedy -- and it shows. The most interesting thing about this movie is matching the actors with their previous sketch/improv shows (from The State to Key and Peele to Mad TV; there's even a talk show hosted by the three stars of Stella). Unfortunately, the movie itself feels oddly artificial, like an excuse for little comedy bits instead of any coherence or development. Most of the humor is poking fun at the nice weirdos in the commune, and it's very lowbrow humor -- from numerous dick jokes to Rudd's painful delivery of "good" seduction lines in a mirror. Most of the actors here have done pretty good work before, but Wanderlust feels like its title: too content to wander aimlessly than to make anything really coherent or good. This movie has some funny moments, but the whole movie is far less than the sum of its cast.

Overall grade: C-

Reviewed by James Lynch

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