Dave White
Wanderlust Review

Dave's Rating:

3.0

The road to nowhere.

It's too easy to make fun of hippies. First of all they're everywhere, occupying places, growing their dreadlocks, drumming, scowling at you while you eat a cheeseburger. You can count on at least one of them sneering at you in the Whole Foods checkout line for buying pork chops. And the most problematic aspect of mocking hippies -- even if you more or less agree with them about a lot of stuff like, say, the environment or corporate greed -- is that it's been done. It's been done well, it's been done badly, it's been done for the right and wrong reasons. It's been done. So if you're going to do it again, you've got to really bring your next-level game.

The hippies mocked in this mostly funny, extra-long sketch live at a commune called Elysium, where economy-busted Manhattan refugees Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston wind up after job loss and home foreclosure. Faced with the choice of living with Rudd's cruel, rich brother (Ken Marino, as a hilarious rage-aholic a-hole) or embracing the free love, veganism, "truth circles" and no-locked-doors environment of the pastoral commune, Rudd and Aniston decide to give their spirit animals a tryout.

Cue jokes about bad-tasting food, body odor, natural childbirth, etcetera. There are a few stabs at balance when the action shifts to Marino's echo-chamber McMansion in suburban Atlanta, but for the most part this is about goofing on the hippies. And that's fine, but it's an easy, self-satisfied "fine," not hateful at all, but still picking the lowest-hanging fruit to swing at.

And having said all that, it's still funny throughout. Chuckles vs LOLs, but still funny. It never approaches full-tilt insane like director David Wain's 2001 cult classic Wet Hot American Summer or the constant big laughs of Role Models, but the cast, all veterans of those films as well as other Apatow productions and TV shows like The State and Reno 911!, is loosely absurdist and always building off of each other. Rudd is his usual aspirational everyman, funnier and better looking than you but still relatable and always ready to improv on his own, like he does in a bizarre scene where he practices seducing commune hottie Malin Akerman. Cool old-timers Linda Lavin and Alan Alda (from '70s sitcoms Alice and M*A*S*H, respectively) pop up in small roles and remind you why they were successful in the first place. And Aniston is, as usual, the prettiest weak link around, falling back on that pleading-eyes face she's good at delivering when there's nothing funny to be done.

So sure, you won't feel like you've wasted time on it. If you're as easy a laugh as I am, you'll enjoy yourself. But you might also come away with the nagging feeling that they aimed for B- and succeeded, that they were content just to flail around and perform wacky stunts instead of making a movie about something. In Bridesmaids, when Kristen Wiig loses her livelihood, the film never flinches from the despair and fear she feels over her instant poverty. It's a plot point that still gets mined for comedy. The same fate falls on Rudd and Aniston and never once does the movie indicate that they might be worried about their homelessness. Instead they obsess over whether the other one is going to indulge in no-strings sex with a fellow commune-ist, then bide their time until they learn how to maximize their own personal "brand" and make sweet money again.

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