Why We All Slept on ‘Wanderlust’

Aniston, Rudd headline killer comedy cheerfully mocking Hippie Nation

Judd Apatow’s name was once synonymous with big-screen comedy.

He directed instant classics (“Knocked Up”), produced howlers (“Superbad”) and co-wrote sleepers (“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”).

Yet one film released in the fading auteur’s heyday never caught fire. And that’s just wrong.

Wanderlust - Trailer

The 2012 comedy “Wanderlust” cast Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd as a married couple flirting with hedonism. They’re broke, exhausted and tired of eating scraps from a vile family member (Ken Marino, never better as Rudd’s brother).

So when their car breaks down near a hippie commune called Elysium, the couple decides to stick around for a while. 

Any why not? Elysium teems with quirky souls and both room and board are covered. There’s even a free love option with the handsome Seth (Justin Theroux) and Eva (Malin Akerman).

Does it matter that there’s no door on their bathroom? Maybe.

Wanderlust (2012) - Money Buys Nothing Scene (1/10) | Movieclips

Director David Wain of “The State” fame gathers a killer cast, including Joe Lo Truglio, Jordan Peele, Alan Alda and Kerri Kenney. 

It’s Aniston and Rudd’s film, though, and they’re believable as a couple whose unconditional support for each other cuts both ways.

The comedy’s box office numbers proved forgettable, with a $17 million U.S. haul.

Critics were similarly lukewarm to “Wanderlust,” citing an abundance of hippie cliches as a recurring complaint. That’s not necessarily wrong, but said cliches are cranked out by a cast that treats them with tenderness. Yes, they’re mocking the commune lifestyle, but it’s never mean-spirited or cheap.

Corporate life also takes it on the chin, from the precarious nature of success to those who hold our lives in their hands (and don’t seem to care).

What works in “Wanderlust?” Just about everything?

The shock humor comes courtesy of Lo Truglio, often naked as an aspiring author and winemaker. Seth’s leadership style is both commanding and silly, and Michaela Watkins steals the movie as the trophy wife who drinks her pain away.

She plays Marino’s wife, and her passive-aggressive digs are a low-key howler.

The early sequences are the best, including a road trip fight between our leads. Rudd and Aniston take turns singing along to the car radio and glaring at each other via a tightly edited montage.



The film caps with a bloopers reel featuring Rudd ad-libbing his silliest scene. It’s not a career highlight, just a reminder of how committed Rudd remains to his craft.

Superheroes reigned supreme in 2012, dominating the box office with smashes like “Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Amazing Spider-Man.” Comedies struggled to gain traction that year, with only “Ted” cracking the Top 10 (it came in ninth place).

Comedies also age poorly. The references. The type of humor. The jokes that once seemed cutting edge but now play as safe and formulaic.

Twelve years later, “Wanderlust” has only grown, careening from sophomoric to profound. It’s a shame Wain hasn’t directed a project since 2018’s “A Futile and Stupid Gesture,” a look back at National Lampoon.

Did he take the Todd Phillips route, abandoning film comedy in the age of woke? Or are studios less willing to embrace his hard-R brand of humor?

Either way, we’ll always have “Wanderlust.”


  1. Wow these titles must appear on the top ten comedies play list of CNN and Atlantic. Right after Lesbian zombie witches of Outer Space, oops thats a Disney show isn’t it?

  2. Paul Rudd had me in tears of laughter with his mirror scene and the scenes played under the credits.

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