Wanderlust: What the Critics Are Saying

 Gemma Lamana/Universal Studios

Hitting the big screen tomorrow is Wanderlust, starring the always-box-office-friendly Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston. Yet despite its powerhouse lineup, also featuring Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman and Ken Marino, this latest work from the comedic arsenal of director/writer David Wain has managed to stir up a number of mixed critical reviews.

Regardless, the Universal Pictures' comedy managed to pull in a solid 75 percent from critics and 76 percent from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes on Thursday afternoon -- positioning it for a more than successful opening weekend at the box office.

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The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore sifted through the film's zany moments showcasing Rudd and Aniston as a fish-out-of-water couple on a hippie commune, concluding that a "weakness for anything-goes caricature" is "balanced by well-rounded performances." While the plotline may be a predictable one, DeFore assured prospective moviegoers that the "good-natured cast and filmmakers" ultimately succeed in selling the movie.

AP movie critic Christy Lemire followed up with a similar conclusion, noting that "the gags are as hit-and-miss as you'd imagine." Yet she also pointed out that while some of the jokes may be carried on past their expiration date, that's precisely the point they're intended to serve. The movie, she said, rides out on a "series of moments," sans any "structure, cohesion and narrative drive."

Time Out New York's Keith Uhlich seemed to side with many of his fellow critics, accepting the slapstick comedy at face value and not calling it out for its apparent lack of a storyline: "None of the hilarity is enough to keep Wanderlust from feeling like a late-night comedy-show sketch stretched to feature length. But why look a giggle-prone gift horse in the mouth?"

Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum was a little more generous than some of her more critical cohorts, giving the film an "A-" and pronouncing, "the setup is sturdy." She said "it's a pleasure to see Aniston thrive in her comedy zone, secure in the knowledge that for every inch of propriety she's willing to cede, Paul Rudd is ready to get 10 times as crazy for a grateful nation."

Contesting Schwarzbaum's favorable review is People magazine's Alynda Wheat, who gave the film a despicable one star in her review released Thursday. Her opening statement more or less summed up the critic's standpoint: "Insipid, tedious and lacking in common sense, Wanderlust has nothing to offer a discerning viewer." For her, it was actress Linda Lavin (playing the role of the Rudd and Aniston's underhanded realtor) who offered any sort of "merit" to the film.

And so it stands, the expectation to laugh, cringe, and tune out for 98 minutes. Anticipating anything more, according to critics, might be problematic for audiences.

 

 

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