By Todd A. Smith
You’re happily married. You’ve found a New York apartment that fits your budget in an affluent neighborhood. You’re up for a promotion on your job and your wife is on the verge of fulfilling her dream of directing HBO documentaries.
All of a sudden, your marriage is not that fulfilling. Your company is raided by the FBI, and you’re subsequently fired from your prestigious job. You lose that fancy micro-loft (or studio apartment) and you take a financial loss trying to sell it. And to top it off; HBO is not interested in your wife’s documentary about penguins with testicular cancer. Go figure.
What do you do when you are faced with this predicament? If joining a hippie commune, where clothing is optional and sharing your wife sexually with others is expected, then the Wanderlust film is actually probably your life story.
Unfortunately for George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston), in the Wanderlust film, it is their life.
After all of their New York City dreams are shattered seemingly simultaneously, the couple decides to move to Atlanta to live with George’s financially successful, but arrogant, brother Rick (Ken Marino).
Along the route, Linda becomes extremely exhausted, wanting to rest for the night. After surviving an automobile accident, they stumble upon Elysium, a hippie commune that preaches togetherness and devalues material possessions. Initially, George finds Elysium refreshing because it is a rare place on Earth where he can escape the rat race of life and experience happiness without the stresses of the real world.
After a brief stint working and living with his older brother, George goes back to Elysium but finds a much different place than the one he initially stumbled upon. Elysium’s spiritual guru Seth (Justin Theroux) lusts for Linda and encourages the swinger lifestyle. Wayne (Joe Lo Truglio) thinks he is a bestselling novelist, wine connoisseur and still cannot keep his clothes on, Rodney (Jordan Peele) is “African American” (trust me, the race scene is funny) and the distaste for materialism seems to be all a fraud thanks to Seth.
Land developers want to take over the land and build a casino, which would generate millions of dollars, and some at the commune are all too eager to sell out their “family” for the fortune ($11,000) and the fair sex.
The Wanderlust film is the typical hilarious Judd Apatow-produced movie. Thankfully, the comedy overshadows the weirdness of the commune environment.
The residents mentally live in a time where “The Arsenio Hall Show” still reigns supreme and the walkman, discman and VCR are still technological advancements. Nevertheless, the weirdness does eventually take too much attention from the amusing comedy, like in the hallucination scene.
Regardless, the Wanderlust film is definitely an enjoyable comedy like other films starring Rudd. Furthermore, moviegoers will be able to relate to the predicament of job uncertainty and the stress this puts on relationships. However, they will not be able to relate to the commune lifestyle because it is unrealistic that most people would go to such extreme measures to escape the pressure of normal life.
Smith is publisher of Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.