Comedy trailers are tough because it’s important to make the movie look funny without giving away all the best jokes. Unfortunately, the trailer for Wanderlust fails on both counts.
George and Linda (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) are happy New Yorkers who have just bought their first apartment, perhaps living at the edge of their means. But when George and Linda both find themselves out of work at the same time, they can no longer afford their exorbitant mortgage and they’re out on the street. George’s brother Rick (Ken Marino) makes a pretty good living in Atlanta, so they head down to stay with them until they can get things sorted out. But it’s a long trip, and when they need to stop for the night, they use their GPS to find a nearby hotel and are directed to the Elysium Bed and Breakfast. This particular B&B just happened to be co-located with a hippie commune, and George and Linda are taken aback when they’re greeted by a nudist. But they find themselves there for the night, and with the help of a little music and marijuana, they actually kind of enjoy it.
The next morning, they’re on their way again and soon find themselves at Rick’s house. Rick has no qualms about making it clear how well things are going for him, or about berating George for his current situation. It doesn’t take long with George working for Rick, and Linda hanging out with his wife Marissa (Michaela Watkins), for them to realize that this is not going to be a pleasant arrangement. They’re soon back at the commune, and although they have immediate regrets, they agree to give it a couple of weeks to see how things go.
If Wanderlust was better than I anticipated, it was only because I went in with very low expectations. It is purportedly a comedy, but most of the time it’s just mildly amusing. Most of the best gags are given away in the trailer, so it wasn’t until about two thirds of the way through the film that it actually managed to get a laugh out of me (although to be fair, it was a good one). Nearly all of the jokes they use are grossly overused, so something that appears even a little funny initially quickly loses any entertainment value, and most of these aren’t the kind of thing that become funny again after a while and only serve to make the film utterly predictable near the end. The brief sequence of outtakes that appear during the end credits is funnier than just about everything else in the film, so if you see the movie, make sure to stay for them.
The quality of the overall story is also suspect. It’s not hard to accept that someone would have second thoughts about moving to a commune, but the speed with which George and Linda change their minds isn’t completely believable. There’s also a rather contrived subplot about rich people trying to take over the land in order to build a casino which doesn’t stand up to any degree of scrutiny. This isn’t a movie that you see for its logic and reason, but it seems like that entire story line could have been removed without any harm done to the overall plot.
If you’re in the mood for something that doesn’t require any thought and might make you laugh a few times, then perhaps Wanderlust is for you. It’s probably quite a bit better if you haven’t seen the trailer, which seems to have been the case for most of the audience at the screening I attended.