By John Lichman | The Playlist February 23, 2012 at 4:20PM
There's a clear message that David Wain wants to send with "Wanderlust": he will move you. In fact, he'll even massage your head if you're in the aisle of a screening, as he did yesterday as a part of Film Comment Selects at Lincoln Center in New York City (seriously, the author can confirm that Wain's fingers are like a gentle breeze).
"I bet most of these pictures are going straight up to www.twitter.com," said Wain on stage at Lincoln Center. After last night's screening, the co-writer/director was joined by Paul Rudd, Ken Marino, Kerry Kenney-Silver and Alan Alda. The joke would become serious during the Q&A later, when Wain became visibly annoyed by all the photos being taken from the front row.
But before that, the important question: what inspired the film? "Funny, we were just talking about the Internet," said Wain. "The initial round of research was done on a place we found called Wikipedia. But later on in the process, we did visit some communes and we learned a lot."
The internet does show up in the film, especially toward the end, from co-opted viral videos being re-enacted (one of the movie's best bits) to re-purposing old sketches. Still, it's impossible to have a Q&A without the assembled crew taking questions and running wild with them (Ken: "But while we were reading Wikipedia and when we visited the communes, we were both naked.") So, where'd the idea come from? (Ken, again: "Communes have been around for a long time.") While waiting for the laughter to die down, Wain would take control of the talk and bring it back to their improv nature.
"We wrote a script that we always changed and evolved and worked on to revise the script throughout the production process, shooting process and editing process. But whatever pages we had on the day, we would shoot those and we would shoot a lot of alt material as well. And we would also let the actors go free, improvise and play--we'd take all of that into the edit room and take whatever we felt was best," he explained.
"I never was in a picture before where there were alts--being a word for alternative lines. Some of these alternative lines meant the scene you had just done couldn't possibly be in the movie," said Alda about his first experience working with Wain, Marino and the rest of the team. "They just obliterated everything you thought about the character."
"[In] a lot of movies and comedies, there's a place for a joke or a punchline and you'll shoot them all. I think that more and more, comedies are doing a thing where they have alt whole scenes that completely affect the plot," said Wain. Asked by Alda what to do if that happens down the "tricky rabbit hole" of alts, Wain simply admitted, "It's a total mess."
Rudd chimed in saying, "I think it's a Judd influence. Some of the alts were really drastic where it does affect the plot--now you like being in the commune in this take, now you don't like it! It's just a different joke."
Wain: "Now when you say Judd you're referring to Judd Apatow, one of the producers of the film."
Rudd paused. "No, I meant Ashley Judd. She wanted every alt to involve Kentucky basketball."
In fact, there were so many alts shot that Wain revealed the DVD would contain "The Bizarro Cut," which will be the same film--just with none of the same lines or possibly even readings as seen in the theatrical. It even means more of the soon-to-be-famous speech that Rudd gives to himself in front of a mirror to psych himself into sleeping with free-loving Eva (Malin Akerman) will be included.
"Believe it or not, there were things that weren't used in that scene," said Rudd. It was also the first scene shot, along with the heart-to-heart he has with Jordan Peele on a toilet. "I remember looking around. Some of the crew had worked with us before and this improvisational way of shooting. But others hadn't. There was kind of a disturbed look on the crew's faces, 'What are we shooting? I didn't read this part.' In the script, it was really talking about the erection selection. The first part was scripted but I believe David wanted to just keep it rolling."
When the inevitable "Party Down" movie question was asked by the audience, Rudd said, "Well, we definitely want it to be a movie. Ah, you brought your DVD I see." Ken Marino stood up, walked over to the excited fan and gamely took the DVD. And then walked away. (He and Rudd signed it).
"What she's not acknowledging is Paul co-created the show, Ken starred in the show and I directed an episode," said Wain.
"I had four lines in an episode," chimed in Kenny-Silver.
"Alan may have seen an episode."
"I have no idea what any of you are talking about," said Alda.
"Wanderlust" opens on Friday, February 24th.