Wanderlust

Wanderlust

Run time 98 minutes.
Not for children.

From l, Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston in “Wanderlust.”

Producer Judd Apatow is back! So it’s not surprising that this is another attempt at humor that features gutter language and full frontal male and female nudity.

The problem with the film is that it just isn’t funny.

Starring Apatow regular Paul Rudd, joined by Jennifer Aniston, they are a young married couple in New York who are singularly unsuccessful, so they take off and join a commune in Georgia, which is full of bizarre characters. Rudd has one scene in which he’s trying to convince himself to have sex with one of the commune members. He’s looking at himself in the mirror and saying gross things. I guess it is intended to be rollickingly funny. Unfortunately, not only is it not funny, it doesn’t even make any sense. This is a grown man whose wife has given him permission to have extra-marital sex. But Rudd is acting like a guy who has never seen a woman before and doesn’t have a clue how to speak with her. It is one of the more ridiculous scenes one will ever have the misfortune to view and it goes on and on and on.

Directed by David Wain, who co-wrote with Ken Marino, the movie clearly makes fun of the nutty people who used to be called flower children. Actually, I think that Wain is trying to make a movie that supports marital fidelity. But his experience is TV and this film seems more like a sitcom that probably won’t be renewed.

Act of Valor

Runtime 101 minutes.
OK for Children.

“Act of Valor.”

The most noteworthy aspect of this disappointing film is that all the action scenes, which comprise more than 75% of the movie, were shot with 15 handheld DSLR Canon 5D cameras. Exacerbating the less-than-thin story (which avoids apparently silly things like plot and planning), the acting by real Navy Seals detracts from the film. The reason actors like Bruce Willis (who played a Navy Seal in 2003’s Tears of the Sun) get the big bucks is that they can make one believe they are what they portray.

This doesn’t really do much for the reputation of the Seals. The scenes are so poorly edited that the film jumps from one action scene to another. It starts out with the Seals trying to rescue a woman kidnapped in Central America. After that snatch, it jumps to another attack. If you believe this film the Seals just go from one problem to another with absolutely no planning. A good war movie shows the planning of attacks. Filmmakers knew this over 65 years ago in A Walk in the Sun (1945, originally Salerno Beachhead) in which director Lewis Milestone had Dana Andrews, Richard Conte, John Ireland, and a bunch of other GIs walk to a farmhouse in Italy where the Germans were ensconced. Dana spread out the map and they all figured out what they were going to do and then they executed it. This film was remade by Steven Spielberg as Saving Private Ryan (1998).

Unlike A Walk in the Sun, there is no planning here. The Seals are called in and they go for it. They plan a little for the first attack, but when they go after a guy on a ship, it seems as if it’s every man for himself.

The filmmakers say they wanted the story of the Seals told. But, why? This is a clandestine military group; what’s the point of publicity that seems inappropriate. But if you’re going to make a movie to cast plaudits on the Seals, why not make it with established stars? Would Sands of Iwo Jima (1949) have been better with a real marine instead of John Wayne? Let’s face it: Without the Duke or someone of that stature, Sands of Iwo Jima wouldn’t have become the classic it is. This is nothing more than a low budget action film with lots of noise and lots of bullets. The Seals deserve better.

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