Verdict: 4 Stars (out of 5) – Opening Weekend
Paul Rudd: check. R-rated comedy: check. What more does a comedy movie need to succeed? Well, in case you need another incentive, the movie has one of the greatest slow-motion shots of old people, running…while fat and naked. Need I say more?
Critically, this movie isn’t faring well, but there’s a lot here to love if you’re looking for a good, enjoyable (if a little forgettable) two hours at the movies. The plot is nothing new: George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are a married couple struggling in New York to find a place to live and make their way in a thoroughly recessed America. George then loses his job, Linda’s documentary about penguins with testicular cancer is trashed by HBO executives, and the couple relocate to Rick’s (George’s brother) mansion. Rick’s hilarious obnoxiousness soon forces them to find refuge in a unique commune known as Elysium. Hilarious antics follow as the couple live with the commune’s colorful characters, and there’s some dramatic tension between certain parties, but it all ends well with everyone loving each other even more.
But we don’t go to see comedies for their plots, we go to see Paul Rudd’s pretty face say gross words, and there’s enough of that in Wanderlust to satisfy everyone. There is some nuance surrounding the more blatant, dick-waving gags (which I never get tired of), and the movie doesn’t let its dramatic moments take over for too long.
There are some problems with the movie (a usual Paul Rudd comedy is a full 5 stars): the subject matter and the R-rating should have produced some funnier and more explicit gags, and Rudd isn’t used to his full potential. There are plenty of funny jokes and one-liners and mocking of the communal lifestyle, but the movie could have done quite a bit more with its material. The funniest moments of the movie are those that gesture towards this movie’s capacity for some more ridiculous and less-careful humor (cue old fat people running naked while Paul Rudd roars after them in an Escalade, or Paul Rudd talking about his penis to a mirror). Case in point: there are some fantastic ancillary characters here, and if they were given more exposure this movie would have been a more successful comedy (the black man talking about big titties is hilarious any day of the week, and we need more of that).
So it’s no Bridesmaids or 50/50, but this comedy delivers enough for a good weekend at the movies – sure a lot of people rated it much lower than we did…but come on, it’s Paul Rudd saying “you like my erection selection”! And penguins with testicular cancer!
Movies that do it better: Bridesmaids, 50/50, Knocked Up, I Love You Man, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Stepbrothers, The Other Guys