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Wanderlust: It wanders, but it spurs no lust

Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston in a scene from "Wanderlust."

AP/Universal Pictures

1 out of 4 stars


Film encyclopedias may beg to differ, the Cahiers du Cinéma might correct me, but, as far as your humble correspondent knows, Wanderlust is the first mainstream movie ever to star a Floppy Prosthetic Penis.

Since the star is attached to a nudist named Wayne, no one could possibly claim that the Floppy Prosthetic Penis is gratuitous or prurient or otherwise salacious.

However, since Wanderlust is allegedly a comedy, the star is obliged to do more than merely flop. The long and the short of it is, the FPP is there to tickle our funny bone. Alas, it does not, but don't be too hard on the guy. Neither does anyone else here.

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Yes, the FPP does have co-stars, among them Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd. They portray (or at least mouth the words of) George and Linda, married New Yorkers who promptly lose their jobs and their apartment, a double whammy that obliges them to quit the city for the wide open spaces.

Driving by night through said spaces, the two happen upon Elysium, as in Fields, as in a commune with herbal goodies and skinny-dipping and free love and bad coffee and goats and Wayne, not to mention his starring attachment.

Upon arriving at Elysium, the husband is greeted by a colourfully frocked femme who wonders aloud, "If you're George, where's John, Paul and Ringo?" Oh, no doubt, we've got a comedy on our hands.

Of course, the couple decide to tarry a while, long enough to discover that the Floppy Prosthetic Penis, perhaps with some help from Wayne, is writing a novel. Unfortunately, little is divulged about its content, although it is made clear that the novel has a plot. Rest assured that this movie has nothing so quaint. Happily, it has something far more valuable in today's comedic climate: an R-rating in the United States.

Without it, no star. Without it, the FPP wouldn't be permitted to grace us with his presence. Nor would that covey of middle-aged nudists who, at one point, prance about in all their full-frontal middle-agedness. A delightful tableau.

Indeed, a U.S. R-rating permits many things. Like the bizarrely unaccountable sight of Rudd standing in front of a mirror and, like a horny Travis Bickle, addressing himself in the filthiest sexual argot. I believe this too is meant to tickle our funny bone. On the off chance it doesn't, he repeats the foul scene a beat later.

Obviously, what an R-rating allows is important; just as important, though, is what it doesn't allow. For example, it clearly doesn't allow writer, director or actor to raise the faintest objection when a character, enthusiastically eating a German sausage, is made to say: "I don't know why they call it wurst, it's the best." That's the thing about an R-rating – at wurst, it's just so wonderfully undiscriminating.

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Nevertheless, I'm happy to share the report that Ms. Aniston bravely stood up to the R-rating, demanding that a shot of her bare breasts be excised from the final cut. Then again, I'm sad to report that, in the matter of these frames and self-excising, Ms. Aniston did not go nearly far enough. Still, thanks to somebody or other, I did learn this from Wanderlust: "If you smile all the time you can trick your brain into thinking you're happy."

So I tried it out. I left the theatre doing what I didn't do once in the theatre. I smiled. I even laughed. Sorry, no luck – apparently, a pummelled brain just can't be tricked.


  • Directed by David Wain
  • Written by Ken Marino and David Wain
  • Starring Jennifer Aniston, Paul Rudd and the FPP
  • Classification: 14A
  • 1 star

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