by Nerissa Kresge
Rated R stands for “raunchy” and “ridiculous,” right?
Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston’s new movie “Wanderlust” takes shock value to a new level with continual references to sex, drugs and nudity. At times it is hilarious; other times it is just painful and slightly horrifying.
The movie begins in New York where Rudd and Aniston’s characters are surrounded by nasty and mean New Yorkers. Rudd’s character, George, loses his job, forcing the couple to pack up their things and move to Georgia where George’s incredibly crass brother Rick (played by Ken Marino) lives.
On the drive down to Georgia, the couple desperately need a place to stop overnight and find “Elysium” which they believe is a bed and breakfast. Greeted by a full-on nudist (the movie does not allow you to use your imagination in any way), George and Linda find themselves in the midst of a commune, or as the commune’s “leader” Seth (Justin Theroux) corrects them, an “intentional living community.” They spend a night dancing, swimming, sharing, smoking pot and leave the next day on a cloud of love.
When they arrive at George’s brother’s house they are greeted by a brother who is a complete jerk, his wife who has been suppressing her unhappiness with her yuppie lifestyle, and a nephew who is following in his father’s footsteps. Why would they want to stay in such a miserable place when they could go back to such a loving one?
In a split decision, they leave. What follows is a confusing and shocking stay in their new community.
Pretty much any idea associated with communes is brought into the movie and referenced repeatedly, including nudity, free love, “truth circles,” vegan living, drug induced parties, living off the earth and the random school bus parked in the garden.
There are moments of pure genius. The scenes in New York are hilarious, take deep jabs at consumerism and money-hungry people and contain highly quotable moments.
The movie also does a fantastic job helping the audience recognize that in every situation, a person has the choice to do good or bad things. Being a vegan, non-violent, guitar playing hippie does not automatically make a person “good.”
Rudd and Aniston have great chemistry and seem extremely comfortable with each other. Theroux does an excellent job embodying the hippie spirit while making the audience question whether he is supposed to be likable or not. And Michaela Watkins, who plays George’s sister-in-law, steals the show with her dry delivery of one-liners.
Anyone who is squeamish, hates vulgarity, nudity or drug references should not see this movie. If any of that sounds appealing, make sure you take a friend who you can glance over at with wide eyes every once in a while. This is not first date material.
Contact Nerissa Kresge at email@example.com.