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Wanderlust loses its way 





STARS Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston

As scattershot and unfocused as its characters, Wanderlust casts Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston as George and Linda, a Manhattan couple who have just purchased their first home (a "micro-loft," no bigger than one of Donald Trump's closets). But when George loses his job thanks to his boss' illegal activities and Linda has her documentary about penguins with testicular cancer rejected by HBO, the pair find themselves broke and homeless.

While traveling to Atlanta to stay with George's vulgar, wealthy brother and his spacy wife (Ken Marino, the film's co-scripter, and Michaela Watkins are quite funny in these roles), they chance upon Elysium, a blissful commune where the residents live off the land, share everything (including partners) and smoke lots of pot. As they become acquainted with (among others) the philosophical Seth (Justin Theroux), the cheerful Eva (Malin Ackerman), the nudist winemaker Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio) and commune founding father Carvin (Alan Alda), each spouse weighs the pros and cons of permanently staying at this so-called "intentional community."

Writer-director David Wain's film sports an intriguing premise, but the end result never really commits to any particular viewpoint (is Wain laughing with the commune residents or at the commune residents?), a wishy-washy approach that doesn't allow for any insights into the existence of such a beatific place in our capitalist society. This wouldn't matter if the movie fulfilled its obligations as a comedy, but genuine laughs are spread rather thinly throughout, with some bizarre and inspired bits taking a back seat to the usual raunchy gags — this includes an agonizing scene in which a nervous George, about to have sex with Eva, ad-libs various vulgar come-ons in front of the mirror. This endless improv sequence is the type that's usually found as an extra feature on the DVD for a Judd Apatow film (oh, did I mention he's one of this movie's producers?), meaning the home-entertainment branch will have to find something else to fill its slot on the disc. Given the abundance of comparable material — from Rudd sitting on a toilet to Lo Truglio and his prosthetic penis (he's no Michael Fassbender) bouncing through the woods — I don't think they'll need to put in any overtime.

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