When their over-extended Manhattan lifestyle falls apart, George and Linda (Rudd and Aniston) head to Atlanta to regroup at the home of George's rich brother (Marino) and his medicated wife (Watkins). But on the way they stop at a B&B in Elysium, a countryside commune that sparks their imagination of a possible new life. Led by forgetful founder Carvin (Alda) and self-important guru Seth (Theroux), George and Linda are surprised at how well they fit in.
But this free-spirited, free-loving society starts to strain their relationship.
The rather serious storyline grounds the film's goofy humour in a way that's thoroughly engaging. Yes, there's some lesson-learning involved, but the filmmakers never preach, instead keeping us entertained with a procession of hilariously wacky characters who grow on us thanks to the solid cast. Rudd is an expert at this kind of thing, creating an almost criminally likeable character even when George acts like a jerk. Rudd's good-natured approach adds buckets of charm, which helps us follow George through the film's most ill-conceived gag (an unfunny stream of dirty-talk).
Meanwhile, Aniston brings Linda to life with both astute comic timing and an undercurrent of real emotion. And the film is livened up by a string of notable scene-stealers: besides the amusingly up-for-it Theroux, the commune includes the terrific Hahn, Kenney-Silver, Ambrose and a bravely naked LoTriglio. And Watkins is hysterical as a Real Housewife who finally begins to see through the fog of her fake life.
Refreshingly, the script focusses on interaction between the characters rather than getting caught up in the trite save-the-ranch plot. The filmmakers merely use that as a framework in which the actors are encouraged to ad-lib their dialog and run wild with their characters. So even if the film feels wacky and fluffy, it has moments of remarkable depth along the way. So while it keeps us laughing all the way through, in the end we're surprised that our brains have been engaged as well.
Run time: 98 mins
In Theaters: Friday 24th February 2012
Box Office USA: $17.3M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Relativity Media, Apatow Productions
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 59%
Fresh: 79 Rotten: 55
IMDB: 5.6 / 10
Director: David Wain
Starring: Paul Rudd as George, Jennifer Aniston as Linda, Justin Theroux as Seth, Malin Akerman as Eva, Lauren Ambrose as Almond, Joe Lo Truglio as Wayne Davidson, Alan Alda as Carvin, Kathryn Hahn as Karen, Ken Marino as Rick Gergenblatt, Jordan Peele as Rodney Wilson, Kerri Kenney-Silver as Kathy, Michaela Watkins as Marisa, Patricia French as Beverly
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