Aniston is smokin’ as she communes with laughs in Apatow satire
- Last Updated: 1:34 PM, February 24, 2012
- Posted: 10:33 PM, February 23, 2012
What a trip. Running time: 98 minutes. Rated R (sexual material, graphic nudity, profanity, drugs). At the Empire, Union Square, 84th Street, others.
Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston play downsized Manhattan yuppies who join a commune in “Wanderlust,’’ a raunchy, often hilarious satire from the Judd Apatow stable that lacks any real bite.
George and Linda Gergenblatt have barely moved into their pricey new studio apartment on Christopher Street — described as a “micro-loft’’ by real estate agent Linda Lavin in a very funny cameo — when George’s Wall Street job is ended by an FBI raid.
Meanwhile, the latest of Linda’s numerous attempts at a career has crashed and burned.
HBO has rejected her proposal for a documentary about testicular cancer in the Arctic, which she pitches as a cross between “An Inconvenient Truth’’ and “March of the Penguins.’’
En route to a distant new job for George, the stressed-out Gergenblatts spend a pot-smoking night at a bed-and-breakfast in northern Georgia.
It’s run by the patchouli-scented members of Elysium, a ’60s-style commune whose members prefer to call it an “intentional community.’’
An invitation to join Elysium starts looking pretty good after a few days at the Atlanta McMansion owned by George’s overbearing porta-potty-mogul brother/new employer (Ken Marino) and his massively unhappy, perpetually soused wife (Michaela Watkins).
At George’s urging, the Gergenblatts return to Elysium. But will this fairly prissy couple be able to adapt to a property- and privacy-free existence where free love is freely practiced?
Aniston, who has been in some pretty dire comedies of late (like last year’s mirth-free Adam Sandler atrocity “Just Go With It’’) thrives in this ensemble comedy.
Her funniest moments come after Linda ingests a hallucinogenic drug, starts tripping (with delightfully cheesy special effects) and ends up in a tree singing “I Believe I Can Fly’’).
This being a mainstream Hollywood movie, her sex scene with the commune’s most suave and manipulative member (her latest real-life squeeze, Justin Theroux) disappointingly takes place off-screen.
And when Linda takes off her top during a protest, that gets pixilated, though the film contains ample male and female nudity.
Similarly, George’s big night with hot-to-trot Eva (Malin Akerman) is all swaggering build-up by Rudd in something of a filthy tour de force.
As in previous Apatow productions (this one is directed by David Wain, who helmed Rudd in “Role Models’’ and “Wet Hot American Summer’’), there’s often a razor-thin line separating making fun of misogyny and racism and offering it up for the audience’s entertainment.
Wain has peopled this sketch-like film with a wonderful collection of character actors.
Some of them (like Alan Alda, as Elysium’s forgetful elder statesman) seem to have ended up largely on the cutting room floor to make room for scenes that often run too long.
This is a common problem in self-indulgent Apatow land, though the movie overall atypically runs well under two hours.
Studiously avoiding political issues, “Wanderlust’’ may lack the satiric edge of Albert Brooks’ “Lost in America,’’ but it does deliver more big laughs than most comedies these days.
And it has a pair of stars with real chemistry — as Aniston and Rudd showed in their last teaming, “The Object of My Affection,’’ a 1998 flop that’s worth seeking out on DVD.