*** (out of four)
Foolproof movie idea: Paul Rudd stands in front of a mirror and improvises for 90 minutes. Admit it. You would see that movie. You would buy the DVD. You would watch it when you were feeling lousy, and it would cheer you up.
The minute or so of “Wanderlust” when George (Rudd) tries to give his reflection—with permission from his wife Linda (Jennifer Aniston), mind you—the confidence to sleep with a very beautiful, very interested woman (Malin Akerman) are the film’s most deliriously hysterical, vulnerable moments. George gets pretty creepy about it as Rudd contorts his face and voice. The world’s most likable guy is overtaken by a man whose sleaziness is only redeemed by his total doofusness.
George finds himself in this potential free-love situation when he and Linda shack up in a northern Georgia commune, after sudden unemployment forces them to leave behind their tiny New York condo. George’s gigantic d-bag of a brother, Rick (co-writer Ken Marino), motivates them to choose an alternative lifestyle in the country over Rick’s big, jackass-inhabited house in Atlanta.
At the commune, George doesn’t need a new job and Linda doesn’t need to finally settle on a career path (shockingly HBO does not pick up her “An Inconvenient Truth”-meets-“March of the Penguins” documentary, in which penguins have testicular cancer). They can skinny dip and make wine with a nudist (Joe Lo Truglio) and, uh, go to the bathroom in the open, since these people don’t believe in doors.
Aside from misleading viewers about the ease of playing the didgeridoo, the inconsistent “Wanderlust” is totally harmless, often feeling reminiscent of last year’s Rudd hippie comedy, “Our Idiot Brother.” Certain patches pass by without laughs; other big chunks will have you erupting. So rank it below “Wet Hot American Summer” and “Role Models” but above “The Ten” in director/co-writer David Wain’s filmography, which puts it above an awfully high percentage of comedies by other people.
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