Blu-ray Review: Wanderlust

STUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: David Wain | CAST: Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd, Justin Theroux, Malin Akerman, Alan Alda, Lauren Ambrose, Kathryn Hahn
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 6/19/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $34.98
BONUSES: commentary, Bizarro cut of the movie, featurette, gag reel, line-o-rama, more
SPECS: R | 98 min. | Comedy | 1.85:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, French and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Fallen Manhattanite marrieds Jennifer Aniston (Horrible Bosses) and Paul Rudd (Our Idiot Brother) blow out of NYC and end up in a bizarre Georgian commune named Elysium in Wanderlust, a sputtering comedy produced by Judd Apatow (Bridesmaids) that sadly runs out of energy and ideas long before its over.

Wanderlust movie scene

Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston give communal lifestyles a whirl in Wanderlust.

Directed by David Wain and co-written by long-time collaborators Wain and Ken Marino (of TV’s The State and Wainy Days fame), Wanderlust is of an episodic, sketch comedy-ish bent that never fully delivers on the feature film-styled goods. Addled New Yorkers living the communal life down South isn’t a particularly fresh idea and the numerous bits about nudists, free love, vegetarianism, folk music and communal selflessness never garner more than the expected laughs. And not enough of those yucks come from the film’s over-reliance on improvisation, a staple in all Apatow productions. It looks like the filmmakers gave next-to-free reign to the performers to play with their dialogue, which  occasionally clicks for veteran improviser Paul Rudd, Katheryn Hayn (How Do You Know) as a hippy-dippy weirdo and Justin Theroux (Your Highness) as the commune’s possibly scheming leader. But improv is not for everyone and it often feels like the filmmakers let the camera roll on every scene just so they had more choices in the editing bay. Had they maintained a firmer grip on the script (there was an official script, right?), the results would have been tighter and delivered more rabbit-punch laughs.

Damn, the Blu-ray has a lot of extras! Standard features include a lengthier-than-usual  making-of piece (it clocks in at 27 minutes), a ”Line-O-Rama” montage that offers ten minutes of alternate line readings and the requisite gag reel.

On the more unique side is “Penis Envy,” an eight-minute mock-doc on actor Joe Lo Truglio and the trusty prosthetic penis he wore while portraying Wanderlust’s resident nudist. There’re also two Elysium-specific pieces; “Wainy Days: Elysium,” a short film featuring the commune’s residents; and “The Elysium Campaign,” which finds co-star Jordan Peele giving his best Barack Obama impression.

Speaking of impressions, keep an ear out for comedian/impressionist Kevin Pollak on the commentary track, which features Paul Rudd,  Wain and Marino (who also co-stars as Rudd’s obnoxious brother). Pollak sits in with his buddies to issue his trademark impressions, which include takes on Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, Al Pacino and, of course, William Shatner. The commentary is still a relatively tame affair, but it beats the “Bizzaro” version of the film, an 80-minute cut of Wanderlust that’s made up almost entirely of material that’s not found in the official version of the film. As this material consists of alternate lines, jokes, deleted and alternate scenes and outtakes, we’ll admit that its inclusion does provide more bang for the Blu-ray’s buck, but it’s also proof that getting banged isn’t always fun.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.