Don't look to “Wanderlust” for anything off the beaten path: David Wain's commune-cult satire goes to all the easy plot points, making it a surprising disappointment from the director of “Role Models” and “Wet Hot American Summer.” But Wain and his fellow “Stella”/“The State” collaborators, including co-writer Ken Marino, Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black and Kerri Kinney all know how to pull laughs out of even standard setups, creating plenty of mania around stars Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston.
Aniston and Rudd play Linda and George, New York yuppies whose fortunes tank after sinking tons of cash into an overpriced studio apartment. Without income or prospects, the couple head south to Atlanta to live with George's brother Rick (Marino) and his toxic family, but an overnight stop at rural bed-and-breakfast, Elysium, offers bucolic solace after some tough breaks. It turns out the B-and-B is more like a commune, but even more like a cult. It's a better choice than living in Rick's suburban chamber of horrors, at least until the group shows its true nutball colors, messianic leader Seth (Justin Theroux) puts the moves on Linda, and George is tempted by hippie goddess Eva (Malin Akerman).
All of this is less fun than the inspired “PM Atlanta” segments featuring Wain, Showalter and Black as a vile “happy talk” news team covering a significant but done-to-death subplot involving greedy land developers. The “Stella” trio pushes out more comedic energy in just a few minutes than anyone else in the film, and “Wanderlust” needed more of these geniuses in its final cut. It's entirely watchable and Rudd gets to shine once George becomes disenchanted with life at Elysium, but the gags don't even have to be telegraphed. Almost everything that happens in “Wanderlust” is so hard-wired into the collective understanding of commune life that it feels like a rerun on its first viewing. But unlike most reruns, the Blu-ray edition of “Wanderlust” offers an entirely different cut of the film on what they call the “Bizarro” version — same story, different jokes.