‘Wanderlust’ Blu-ray Review: Rudd, Aniston and a Commune Full of Harmless Hippies

Hippies have officially become a punch line at the movies.

The new comedy “Peace, Love & Misunderstanding” draws laughs from a ‘60s relic (Jane Fonda) indoctrinating her grandchildren in the ways of the retro hippie.

Wanderlust,” out this week on Blu-ray and DVD, runs with that gentle mockery. Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston play a burned out New York City couple who finds some peace and a whole lotta free love at a hippie compound.


Neither film treats the hippies with contempt. The consequences of their actions are modest, and their intentions are always pure. But it’s clear the hippie model no longer offers a serious alternative to modern-day living, judging by Hollywood’s refusal to take it seriously.

“Peace, Love & Misunderstanding” delivered few laughs along with its cavalcade of hippie bromides. “Wanderlust,” by comparison, is rigorously funny even if it lacks that signature set piece you can’t wait to share with friends.

Rudd and Aniston play George and Linda, an urban couple who blow their remaining money on a New York city condo – or a micro-loft, to use the realtor’s touchy-feely terminology – and then flee the city when George loses his job.

They decide to live at George's brother’s house in Atlanta temporarily, but on the way they stop at an unusual bed & breakfast. Elysium, “where dreams are dispensed daily … but bring your own container,” is a hippie commune (or "intentional community") right out of the Flower Power era.

“I feel like I can breathe for the first time in I don’t know how long,” George says.

Seth (Justin Theroux), the charismatic not-leader leader of the group, represents every hippie cliché in one scruffy package, but he’s irresistible to Linda, and to us. Theroux may be better known of late for his screenwriting (“Iron Man 2,” “Tropic Thunder”), but his take on the proto-hippie male unleashes a series of sharply delineated laughs.

The couple embraces the community as a lark, but they soon see it as a place where they could actually find long-term happiness – assuming they can process all that free love.

Director David Wain (“Role Models,” “Wet Hot American Summer”) brings his standard formula to “Wanderlust” - two parts outrageous scenarios, one part incredibly awkward exchanges. Add some improv-friendly dialogue, and you're left with a frothy combination that works nearly as well as it did in "Role Models."

If only therapy could make us erase the sight of Rudd describing sexual intercourse in front of a mirror from our minds.

Wain always brings a crackling cast of supporting players to his work. Here, Alan Alda shines as a ‘60s throwback who can’t stop reciting his old buddies who are no longer with us. And Joe Lo Truglio delivers a complex portrait of a nudist who yearns to be taken seriously for his mind, not just his chubby frame.

Ken Marino, who co-wrote the script, plays the most annoying older brother humanly possible. It’s his character that typifies “Wanderlust.” He tries too hard when a more coherent approach to comedy would be far more appropriate. That's certainly the case when the George/Linda relationship hits a rough spot.

"Wanderlust" does tweak the ultra-liberal lifestyle, including a pathetic protest culminating in, what else, someone losing their top. And when a white commune dweller introduces her black husband, she coos, “we’re just as much in love as if we were the same color.”

The Blu-ray extras include a standard gag reel and a Line-o-Rama improv segment which features overlapping content. "Penis Envy" is a documentary about Lo Truglio's experience wearing a carefully placed prosthetic to play the commune's hairy nudist.

Co-star Jordan Peele does his President Barack Obama impersonation to host "The Elysium Campaign," a grab bag of him wandering the set and interacting with cast and crew. It's a killer impersonation, but the lame jokes don't get our vote.