Wanderlust – despite its starry cast – is one of those films where the reality falls short of the expectations drummed up by the trailer, a something-and-nothing movie which kicks off appealingly and then falls flat.
Manhattan couple George and Linda (Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston) have just bought an expensive but microscopic flat when effectively they both lose their jobs.
Heading off to a new life with George’s awful brother, they stop in the night and stumble into another world – the hippy commune of Elysium.
Baffled at first, they are soon attracted to it, and when their new life with the boorish bro’ turns into a nightmare, they decide that Elysium is where their future lies, amid its wealth of weirdos and misfits.
However, that’s the films big problem.
Instead of genuinely exploring the advantages of an alternative lifestyle, it throws together an awful bunch of people you wouldn’t give the time of day to.
There are amusing moments, mostly to do with mind-bending drugs and an insistence on a completely door-free (and therefore privacy-free) society.
But it’s all made to seem desperately unappealing – especially in a particularly-gross scene where George psyches himself up in the mirror for a bit of free love.
It turns also turns out that the guy running the place is a total charlatan, the whole thing becoming a mickey-take of a lifestyle which presumably does actually offer one or two solutions.
Of course, the film shows George and Linda changed by their experiences and presumably better people by the end of it, but ultimately this is a film concerned more with cheap laughs than interesting insights. It’s enjoyable enough but misses the chance to be something more.
Film rental courtesy of Blockbuster. For other new releases, see www.blockbuster.co.uk.