Directed by: David Wain
Starring: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Justin Theroux, Alan Alda
It was only last week I was talking about Jennifer Aniston, and her unfortunate knack for lending her talents to bad movies. So I must extend my thanks to director David Wain for providing a fine illustration of this strange phenomenon. As an added bonus, his film is also an example of how the excellent Paul Rudd can make even the worst film almost bearable. That he does it on a regular basis for lame Judd Apatow productions like this, should win him some award.
Rudd and Aniston are George and Linda, an ambitious pair who’ve just bought themselves a small but very expensive New York apartment. Soon after, George loses his corporate job, and Linda learns that HBO are not interested in her documentary about penguins with testicular cancer. Up the financial creek, they leave the city and head for Atlanta, to live with George’s obnoxious brother Rick (co-writer Ken Marino) and his muttering, medicated wife (Michaela Watkins). Life in this household – and at Rick’s portaloo business, where George joins the staff – turns out to be Dante’s forgotten level of hell, so the couple end up moving into a hippie commune called Elysium. Free love reigns, no boundaries exist, and camp leader Seth (Theroux) presides over the standard bunch of dopeheads, philosophers, and mother earth airheads. There is also the resident nudist, and, obviously, the handy availability of hallucinogenic drugs. The acid, of course, gives the screenwriters a chance to lob in the old R. Kelly gag. After all these years, it still isn’t funny.
The film as a whole has its moments, but the few good laughs don’t make it worth the while.
The hippie target is old and worn out at this stage, and the lazy writing doesn’t bring anything new to the campfire, apart from added male nudity and vulgar language. Which can be funny under the right conditions, but in the Apatow stable, vulgarity is not an accessory to comedy, it is route one, the long ball over the top, bypassing the hard work in midfield. It’s the Rory Delap throw, which will get you the odd goal but as Arsene Wenger might put it, it’s just an ugly way of doing things.