'Wanderlust' in the Georgia dust

  • Article by: KARA NESVIG , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 23, 2012 - 4:01 PM

Fate lands an urbanite couple at a rural Georgia commune featuring a guru, free love, nudism and Alan Alda. Laughs ensue.

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Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston, center, in "Wanderlust."

The trailer for "Wanderlust" makes the Jennifer Aniston/Paul Rudd comedy look fluffy, almost heartwarming, an excuse for the luminous Aniston to wear crocheted tops and cutoff Levi's; it's "Rachel Green Goes to Summer Camp." That trailer is mega-lame, because "Wanderlust" is crass and clever.

Aniston and Rudd play Linda and George, a New York couple who get the short end of the stick and must abandon their pricy West Village "microloft" (read: tiny studio) and move in with George's obnoxious brother in Atlanta until they can get back on their feet.

A car mishap lands them at Elysium, a lovely, sprawling Georgia commune owned by acid-baked Carvin (Alan Alda) and a whole passel of hippie-dippie dudes and chicks with long, wavy hair. The community's own Charles Manson (totally kidding, but he does have the hair) is Seth (Aniston's real-life boytoy Justin Theroux), a passive-aggressive guru with a yen for Linda's hot, maxidress-clad bod.

George isn't feeling it, but Linda loves the free-love life. She's always wanted to "find herself," floating from job to job in NYC, and does among the kooky crew at Elysium. Elysium is home to nudist winemakers, pregnant airhead earth mothers, a sexpot blonde (Malin Akerman), pot-smoking musicians and wandering livestock. They believe in sexual freedom, hallucinogenic tea and, oh yeah, no doors. George and Linda, who've hit a bumpy patch in their marriage, begin to drift apart as she falls under the spell of the charismatic Seth and he gets smeared with cow manure.

"Wanderlust" was directed by David Wain, he of cult favorite sketch show "The State" and the man behind "Wet Hot American Summer." (His frequent collaborators, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter, make an appearance here.) Mix their offbeat, smirking sense of humor with the raunch of producer Judd Apatow and you've got "Wanderlust," which produces tons of laughs in its compact 90 minutes and doesn't overstay its welcome. The bad jokes are bad, but the good ones are great.

Aniston is nowhere near as amusing as she was in "Horrible Bosses," but she holds her own against the always-sterling Rudd. The supporting cast is obviously having fun playing the bohemian crew. Though "making fun of hippies" could've fallen into cliché for a cheap laugh or two, with "Wanderlust" we're all in on the joke.

  • WANDERLUST

    ★★★ out of four stars

    Rated: R, for sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug use .

    RottenTomatoes.com: read reviews

    Showtimes: view listings

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