Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Directed by David Wain.
2012. Rated R, 98 minutes.
Justin Theroux
Kathryn Hahn
Lauren Ambrose
Joe Lo Truglio
Ken Marino
Jordan Peele
Michaela Watkins
Kerri Kenney
Linda Lavin

After losing his job, George (Rudd) and his wife Linda (Aniston) are forced to move out of their expensive Manhattan “mini loft.” Seeing no other options, the couple packs everything in their car and drives to Atlanta where George will work for his brother. On the way, they decide to stop at what they think is a bed-and-breakfast named Elysium, but turns out to be a 1960s style commune. Their immense enjoyment of the night, combined with the fact that George’s brother Rick (Marino) is relentlessly obnoxious, lead them to try and make a full-blown lifestyle switch. They decide they’ll stay at Elysium for a few weeks then decide whether or not to move there permanently.

The couple in question each struggles with their new surroundings in different ways. Of course, the jokes revolve around this. Specifically, we get riffs on the lack of privacy, drug use, the nudist wine-maker/novelist, and whether or not to engage in free love. It’s all rather hit or miss, mostly miss. Our two leads give stock performances. Neither is bad, just indistinguishable from most of their other roles. The problem is that they both work best when they’re not the primary source of humor. This renders them, and the movie, almost wholly dependent on the supporting cast for comedy while their interactions with each other come across more as drama. Each has a funny moment or two, but not enough to sustain an entire movie.

With that in mind, we must turn our attention to the rest of the ensemble. First, there is Seth, played by a very Charles Manson looking Justin Theroux. He spends the bulk of his screen time referencing dated technology and trying to get into Linda’s pants. He’s mildly amusing on occasion. Next is Kathy (Kenney) and Karen (Hahn). I mention them together because that is almost always how they’re seen. Indeed, they seem to be playing opposite sides of the same coin. One is passive-aggressive while the other is prone to angry outbursts. Again, just a laugh or two from each. Another pair is Rodney (Peele) and Almond (Ambrose), a couple expecting a baby. They’re more consistently funny than those previously mentioned. The actual birth scene, which only includes George not Rodney, is by far the funniest moment in the film. It is also as scary as anything you’re likely to see in a horror flick. Alas, they don’t get as much time on screen as the others.

The standout for me is Alan Alda as Carvin, the wheelchair bound owner of Elysium. He’s not uproariously funny, but his performance is just so natural and infectious. Oh, I almost forgot about Wayne (Lo Truglio), the naked guy. Whether or not you find him funny depends on your tolerance for dick jokes. Another bright spot is Linda’s perpetually drunk sister-in-law Marissa (Watkins). Unlike anyone else in the movie, I think she is hilarious. Unfortunately, she shares all of her scenes with Rick, her Stifler inspired husband who is just annoying as all get out.

As for our plot, it just meanders along while the comfort level of our lovebirds moves in opposite directions. Obviously, they notice this which leads to numerous arguments and eventually brings us to the not-so-funny and sorta action-packed finale. By that point, we’re left to shrug our shoulders and try to decide if we like it or not since it is never good or bad enough for us to figure this out earlier. Then we realize that if there’s a debate about whether we like it, we probably don’t.

MY SCORE: 5/10

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