dir David Wain
scr David Wain, Ken Marino
prd Judd Apatow, Ken Marino, Paul Rudd, David Wain
with Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda, Malin Akerman, Ken Marino, Michaela Watkins, Joe Lo Truglio, Kathryn Hahn, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Lauren Ambrose, Linda Lavin
release US 24.Feb.12, UK 2.Mar.12
12/US Relativity 1h38
Campfire stories: Aniston, Rudd, Theroux and Malin

alda marino ambrose
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Wanderlust An unusually sharp script makes this silly comedy thoroughly enjoyable, even when it tips over the top. And it helps that there's terrific chemistry between Rudd and Aniston, plus a range of riotous side characters.

When their over-extended Manhattan lifestyle falls apart, George and Linda (Rudd and Aniston) head to Atlanta to regroup at the home of George's rich brother (Marino) and his medicated wife (Watkins). But on the way they stop at a B&B in Elysium, a countryside commune that sparks their imagination of a possible new life. Led by forgetful founder Carvin (Alda) and self-important guru Seth (Theroux), George and Linda are surprised at how well they fit in. But this free-spirited, free-loving society starts to strain their relationship.

The rather serious storyline grounds the film's goofy humour in a way that's thoroughly engaging. Yes, there's some lesson-learning involved, but the filmmakers never preach, instead keeping us entertained with a procession of hilariously wacky characters who grow on us thanks to the solid cast. Rudd is an expert at this kind of thing, creating an almost criminally likeable character even when George acts like a jerk. Rudd's good-natured approach adds buckets of charm, which helps us follow George through the film's most ill-conceived gag (an unfunny stream of dirty-talk).

Meanwhile, Aniston brings Linda to life with both astute comic timing and an undercurrent of real emotion. And the film is livened up by a string of notable scene-stealers: besides the amusingly up-for-it Theroux, the commune includes the terrific Hahn, Kenney-Silver, Ambrose and a bravely naked LoTruglio. And Watkins is hysterical as a Real Housewife who finally begins to see through the fog of her fake life.

Refreshingly, the script focusses on interaction between the characters rather than getting caught up in the trite save-the-ranch plot. The filmmakers merely use that as a framework in which the actors are encouraged to ad-lib their dialog and run wild with their characters. So even if the film feels wacky and fluffy, it has moments of remarkable depth along the way. So while it keeps us laughing all the way through, in the end we're surprised that our brains have been engaged as well.

cert 15 themes, language, sexuality, drugs 27.Feb.12

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall