One and a half stars
It's not fair. Jennifer Aniston films Wanderlust and winds up dating Justin Theroux. But anyone who sees Wanderlust winds up. . .scarred by the sight of buck-naked seniors running amok at a commune.
That's just one lame-brained scene in a comedy so silly and trifling, there's a distinct possibility the cast and crew might have actually inhaled some of the onscreen hallucinogens. Aniston and Paul Rudd -- still remembered fondly from their pairing in 1998's The Object of My Affection -- slum it as Linda and George, two high-strung NYC yuppies who fall victim to the recession. So they pack up their belongings and reluctantly hit the road. The couple’s in-the-car rendition of a Doobie Brothers classic gets the movie started in the right direction.
But somewhere around Atlanta, they stumble onto Elysium. It's a hippy-drippy commune populated by the usual assortment of colorful characters who believe in sharing, caring and free love — and look up to a cheerfully easy-going dude named Seth (Theroux). With lines like "I'm having a feeling!" and unruly scruff that would impress Joaquin Phoenix, the charismatic Theroux works hard to earn the bulk of the laughs.
The skeleton of a plot falls apart completely once Aniston and Rudd immerse themselves in all things Elysium. In a truth circle, the two have a bitter spat about each other's shortcomings, yet all is resolved in a matter of hours. Precious moments are wasted on Rudd conversing with the goofy residents while relieving himself on a toilet. Tragically, this is not even Rudd's most humiliating moment:
After a free-spirited sexpot (Malin Akerman) makes a proposition, the actor is forced to look into a mirror, give himself a pep talk and proclaim, "I'm gonna get it up in your vague!" Rudd is lucky he has years of good will on his side.
So is Aniston. For if Horrible Bosses was one step forward on her career resume, this role takes her three steps back. Flaunting her honey-colored tresses and suntanned legs, she never veers from her well-honed easy-breezy persona. A sequence in which she gets high and hallucinates will seem like déjà vu to anyone who’s ever seen a Harold & Kumar movie. Even her much-ballyhooed nudity — which occurs during a protest in front of TV cameras — is a winking tease. (What's her chemistry like with Theroux? Think two giddy 10th graders sneaking a smoke together in the back of the school.)
Somewhere in this limp effort, lessons are offered about money, happiness and love. Whatever, man. It would have been more entertaining if Aniston and Rudd had just kept driving.