THERE have been plenty of movies where young city slickers gain humility and learn what life is really about after spending time with honest country folk – but director David Wain’s Wanderlust is smarter than that.
Thankfully, this sweet, inoffensive comedy avoids claiming that we would all be better off if the world was more like Elysium – the hippy commune stressed-out New Yorkers Linda (Aniston) and George (Rudd) find themselves warming to more than they could have ever imagined.
Though it’s not groundbreaking in the American comedy genre, what makes the film work overall is the fish-out-of-water premise, and for George and Linda, things are not going swimmingly.
The trials and tribulations of the daily rat race have become too much as financial pressures begin to bite and George finds himself out of a job.
Forced to move in with George’s brother, the situation takes a turn for the surreal when the couple discover Elysium.
It’s an idyllic place and there are a number of colourful characters in this community who embrace life rather differently – this is a society where money can’t buy happiness, nudity is embraced and everyone’s a vegan.
What we are left with is a standard comedy about two people who are transported a million miles from their comfort zone and it is an idea which has been done before.
There are of course wacky high jinks and watching the pair struggling to adapt to their bizarre new surroundings provides a fair few laughs.
The makers of the film probably wanted to make us think about wider issues such as lifestyle choices and how we really define happiness, but we just get sucked into the comical situation the pair find themselves in.
What’s nice about it is the cast of comedy veterans know which side their bread is buttered on and maintain a healthy mix of gags, clever writing, uncomfortably drawn-out moments, and plenty of improvising.
There’s an endearing quality to the characters, where all of them have their strengths and flaws.
The lead actors work well together – a by-product of their time together on Friends no doubt – and while Rudd is as likably awkward as ever, Aniston excels in her slightly more backseat, quietly funny role.