MOVIE REVIEW: Wanderlust — Don't Worry, Money Really Isn't That Important

Feel condescended to yet?

Ah, another film where another harried and overextended New York couple flees the city and learns the error of their ways, including how money shouldn't matter so much. This is one of the most annoying formulas in all creation, but I doubt that it will ever get old any time soon: It's the closest mainstream Hollywood will ever get to relating to the rest of us.

The movie begins as we see the New York couple, Linda (Jennifer Anison) and George (Paul Rudd) overextending themselves to buy a micro-loft (studio) apartment. When George gets fired and Linda's latest venture fails, they find themselves with few options, so they head to Atlanta to take a job with George's brother, Rick. On the way, they discover a bed and breakfast that turns out to be a hippie commune. George quickly takes to the place, and their charismatic leader Seth (Justin Theroux) — Linda less so.

They stay for a night and depart to Rick's majestic house and unhappy family (of course). He is a magnificently unsavory human being whose behavior soon drives Linda and George back to the commune. There, the two quickly switch places: George becomes uneasy by the lack of boundaries (there are no doors and he can't even go to the bathroom in peace), his complete unsuitability for nonoffice work, and Seth's interest in his wife, who basks in the lack of social norms.

Cliches and stereotypes abound. Linda becomes more enamored of the place after Seth shows off his guitar skills, and the hippies talk in a circle and ingest powerful hallucinogens. (The only thing that would be more of a cliché is a drum circle) There's even a subplot that deals with the commune being threatened by men in suits who seek to build a casino on the land.

The film clearly basks in its R rating, with countless examples of graphic nudity. However, like other fare such as Hall Pass and No Strings Attached, its graphic nature and questions about monogamy are merely used to further the same old idea that only the traditional kind of relationship is acceptable.

The only saving grace in this film is the film's talented cast (which includes Alan Alda as the aging commune founder) and their ease in handling the script's solid one-liners. But mostly I couldn't feel more condescended to. My suggestion is to watch a episode or two of Entourage or Sex in the City rather than this garbage. At least those shows strive to be more honest about relationships, as well as the characters' desire for money and the role it plays in bettering their lives.

Reviewer Rating: D-

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James R Hoffa February 29, 2012 at 05:50 AM
Clearly, there's nothing really redeeming here - but what do you expect from a formula Hollywood picture? While it may be watchable once, it's not a pleasant experience, nor a very memorable one (thankfully). For a film that compassionately looks at a more 'unconventional' relationship, you may want to check out my review of 'Dreamchild' (1985), as I think you'd immensely enjoy this hidden gem :-) http://mountpleasant.patch.com/blog_posts/hoffas-retro-cinema-club-dreamchild-1985#video-9206916 I'd also love to hear your thoughts about the film, if you're so inclined!
A Reel Of One's Own February 29, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Sure, your review looks very interesting, and I found the film on YouTube, so I will get to watching it right away and let you know what I think! Btw, have you ever heard or seen the movie The Secret of Roan Of Roan Inish? It's an American/Irish independent film that was released in 1994, and one I've very much enjoyed. If you're interested, it can also be found on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OoJgM-7jj2k
James R Hoffa March 05, 2012 at 03:17 AM
@Andrea - I've heard of it, but never had the chance to check it out. But with your recommendation, I'll definitely be sure to fit it in very soon. The synopsis provided on IMDb reminds me somewhat of 'When the Whales Came' (1989), which I enjoyed very much! I'll be sure to let you know what I think :-)
A Reel Of One's Own March 12, 2012 at 04:45 AM
I just finished watching Dreamchild, and I have to say I really enjoyed it. Your review pretty much said it all: a wonderful look at an unconventional relationship, and the characters seemed wonderfully sketched: no one was a saint, and no one was a villain either, particularly in the case of the young Alice. She's obviously a good and sweet kid, but she still acts like one, which means she can occasionally be hurtful. Thanks, and please let me know what you think of The Secret Of Roan Inish!
James R Hoffa June 05, 2012 at 06:44 AM
I'm so glad that you enjoyed Dreamchild! Holm is a personal favorite of mine - I know, I have many so-called favorites. I'm also a big fan of the 'unconventional relationship' genre. If time allows, I hope to start doing reviews again myself very soon, albeit shortened down from usual verbose self! I'm still working on seeing your recommendation - I'm sorry I got so busy and behind, but I promise I'll get to it ;-)


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