'Wanderlust' offers appealing cast, big laughs

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Posted: Thursday, March 1, 2012 2:21 am

If there's one topical issue the world has been clamoring to have skewered on the big screen it's … well, it's probably not hippie communes.

Still, with an appealing cast and just enough big laughs, "Wanderlust" is worth a trip to the theater.

Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston star as George and Linda Gergenblatt, a couple of diehard New Yorkers living in a tiny apartment with a giant mortgage.

George has a boring job that he hates, while Linda bounces around from one high-concept career to another. When both of their careers bottom out simultaneously with the real-estate market, their lives are turned upside-down.

Seemingly doomed to live and work with George's completely obnoxious brother, the couple instead ends up at Elysium, a rural Georgia commune.

Elysium comes complete with all the cliches — vegan diets, nudity, hallucinogenics and free love — and is peopled entirely by eccentrics and oddballs.

Rudd and Aniston — who played an odd couple previously in "The Object of My Affection" — have a nice chemistry together. For Aniston, this is one of her better comic roles. Rudd also has his moments, but he's been better. Of particular note is an uncomfortably long stretch of ad-libbed sex talk between Rudd and his mirror that isn't funny and is entirely out of character.

The real stars of the show are the slightly daft supporting characters, many of them members of director David Wain's cult favorite sketch comedy troupe "The State."

Best is Aniston's real-life boyfriend Justin Theroux, as a buff guru with an answer for everything and an eye for Linda. Malin Ackerman ("Watchmen") is the sexy Ava. Joe Lo Truglio is a wine-making nudist and would-be novelist. Alan Alda is on hand as the commune's founding father, and Linda Lavin earns some early laughs as a New York realtor.

"Wanderlust" is mostly predictable, with a fair amount of raunch — as to be expected from a movie produced by Judd Apatow. There's very little narrative flow, but the majority of the jokes hit their mark.

Maybe communes will make a comeback.

Rental Recommendation: Judd Apatow also produced (and Paul Rudd appeared in) "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy." Grade: A

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