A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wanderlust -- which stars Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd and was produced by Judd Apatow -- delivers a lot of the same kind of very edgy material for which Apatow's other crowd-pleasing films (including Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin) are known. There's frequent strong sexual content, full-frontal nudity (many characters are nudists), lots of strong language (including "f--k," "s--t," and many more), drinking, and drug use (pot). The jokes are raunchy, scatological, sex-charged, and plentiful.
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What's the story?
George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) seem to have all the hallmarks of an up-and-coming New York couple: good looks, fast-paced jobs (he's a financier, she's a documentary filmmaker), and a posh downtown apartment. But then Linda fails to sell her movie to HBO, and George, who supports her financially, loses his job. Soon they're out of their apartment and heading south to Atlanta, where George's boorish, chauvinistic, racist brother (Ken Marino) and his hard-drinking, depressed wife (Michaela Watkins), are offering shelter and a soulless temp job. On the way there, they make a pit stop at Elysium, a commune -- nay, "intentional community" -- masquerading as a bed-and-breakfast led by a free-love-advocating pseudo-guru (Justin Theroux) that makes them question the way they live their lives.
Is it any good?
WANDERLUST has all the hallmarks of a brilliant Judd Apatow movie: raunchy humor, absurdist set-ups, and a heaping serving of the awesome Paul Rudd. With a recipe like that, how can it go wrong? And it doesn't, really; it piles up the hilarity one ridiculous situation after another until you succumb. A scene in which Rudd stares at a mirror and talks dirty to himself will leave audiences heaving in laughter.
Still, Wanderlust doesn't quite strike comedy gold. Though it's laced with seriously funny moments, it often goes for cheaper laughs. (Ha ha, naked people with real-life bodies subject to the vagaries of gravity while running! Ha ha, vegans!) When a sight gag involves a woman delivering her own baby on a front porch and later displaying the placenta (complete with the requisite eating-the-placenta joke), it's all over. Wanderlust begins with a question for our time: Is this breakneck speed, this pursuit of life, liberty, and real estate equity worth it? It answers that question, of course, and in the way we'd expect it to. But how truly brilliant would it have been if the process of coming up with the answer, as well as the answer itself (in other words, the movie) had taken a more unexpected road?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the filmmakers deal with the fine line between being crude and being funny. Which side do they fall on more often? Who decides where that line falls to begin with?
Are positive take aways harder to find in this kind of movie? What stays with you longer -- the raunchy humor or the more emotional messages?
How does the movie portray sex? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.
Why are George and Linda drawn to Elysium? What makes a commune attractive, and what doesn't?
- In theaters: February 24, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: June 19, 2012
- Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Malin Akerman, Paul Rudd
- Director: David Wain
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: sexual content, graphic nudity, language and drug use
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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