The Grab Bag was good to me this time around. It presented me with a gut-busting comedy … like it was my birthday or something (actually it was my birthday). Director David Wain wins again with Wanderlust, a funny low-fi picture about a NYC couple (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Anniston) who discover a commune in Georgia after they lose their normal livelihoods. It’s your basic silly hippy/yuppy culture clash story but the beauty is in the performances and writing. At least three scenes made me cry I was laughing so hard and the rest of the film kept me chuckling. That qualifies it as an first class comedy in my book since most comedy films don’t suit my taste.
Here’s a nice intro clip where the protagonists first arrive at the commune that will give you the basic tone of the film.
I love the sketch show The State from the 90′s and most of the work that crew has done since has kept me as a fan. David Wain’s absurd comedy masterpiece Wet Hot American Summer is one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen and his web series about his failed romances, Wainy Days, is perfectly timed and concise. Wain reigns in his wacky a bit for Wanderlust as it’s all reality-based. There aren’t many background sight gags and the characters are all fairly believable in their motivations and behaviors. This is partly what makes the film so funny though. There are lots of hippy and yuppie jokes and they work without being mean spirited. Surprisingly there’s not a lot of poo jokes but there is lots of raunchy humor.
It’s not comedy everyone will enjoy. It’s weird, immature and often intentionally awkward. There are lots of dick jokes but completely unlike something like Superbad. All the sex gags have an innocent core to them that makes it that much funnier, it’s kind of incongruous like when Betty White talks dirty. Paul Rudd delivers an extended ridiculously filthy pep talk to himself in a mirror that will either have you in stitches or grossed out and confused. The casting of Paul Rudd and Jennifer Anniston were perfect for these vanilla “straight” characters. I can even say that old Jenn did a good job. She even does a great drug trip scene.
Alan Alda brings few laughs as an ex-acid head similar to his role in Flirting with Disaster. Some other stand out supporting roles were played by Kerri Kenney as a clueless communer, Lauren Ambrose (from Six Feet Under) as a very pregnant communer, and Michaela Watkins as a Real House Wives of Altanta type.
I heartily recommend Wanderlust. A good comedy is rare any time but I think now especially there just hasn’t been anything that made me laugh consistently in years. It will hold up to repeat viewing and I could see it becoming an underground classic much like Wet Hot American Summer (which is getting a sequel according to rumors). It’s totally light-hearted and doesn’t contrive some more serious plot than just the silly little story that is there. It’s worth full admission and to see it with a bunch of other people laughing uncontrollably or uncomfortably is a pleasant experience.