Alumni of the sketch comedy troupe “The State” have been unleashing a barrage of comic gems onto the public since their show ended. Most notably, David Wain has become a directing wunderkind, slaying audiences with the brilliantly erratic Wet Hot American Summer, followed by the interwoven anthology, The Ten. In 2008, he released his first major studio release, Role Models, and is now back to make you laugh with his star packed cast in Wanderlust. Wain was joined onstage at New York’s Lincoln Center by cast members Paul Rudd, Ken Marino (who co-wrote the script), Kerri Kenney, and Alan Alda, and the group engaged in a lively discussion about the filmmaking process.
Some people might think the crazy antics of these seasoned funnymen come out of thin air. However, there was plenty of research that went into planning this film’s treatment of communes and nudists: “A lot of the initial research was done on this site we found on the internet called Wikipedia,” says Marino. “Later on in the project we did visit a commune. But when we were looking things up on Wikipedia and at the commune, we were both naked.”
Most of the film’s cast members have been working together for years, but this time around they were joined by acting legend Alan Alda. Alda had to have known what he was in for when he signed up, but as Kerri Kenney puts it, everyone’s nerves were still on edge wondering if he would run off to the hills.
“We had already been in Georgia for two weeks when Alan came on, and everyone was so nervous and excited,” says Kenney. “I was afraid he was going to see the fraternity parade that was happening and leave, but he was instantly the most important member of the family, such an insane key player. It’s terrifying — we’re used to having our drawers down, around each other. Then comes this professional, like, acting dude.”
Alda obviously had no problem fitting in with the gang. Working with Wain and company even gave him the opportunity to do things he has never done before.
“I never was in a picture before when there were ‘alts’ [alternative takes],” says Alda. “Some of these alternative lines meant that the scene you’ve just done couldn’t possibly be in the movie.”
Wain commented on the growing use of “alts” in comedies: “A lot of comedies shoot alts to have a different reaction to a punchline or something,” he states. “I think that more and more, comedies are doing a thing, where they have a whole alt theme, or alts that completely effect the plot, not just different wording.”
The ultimate goal of this type of shooting may be seen on the home video release of Wanderlust. Wain alluded that the home video release will feature two cuts of the movie.
“There is another cut of the movie that’s gonna be on the DVD called the ‘Bizarro cut,’ and it’s a whole different version of the movie. But instead of a couple of things being different, every scene is different. There is very little material that is in the Bizarro cut that is in the theatrical cut. There lay your alts.”
Based on what was said during the evening, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were just two hours of Paul Rudd waxing poetic into a mirror. In the film, the pieces used are tear-jerkingly hilarious, but as Rudd mentions, there is a lot more out there.
“Believe is or not, there were things that weren’t used in that scene,” says Rudd. “And that was on the first day of shooting. Some of the crew had worked with us before and kind of knew our improvisational way of shooting, but others hadn’t. I remember looking around and seeing this kind of disturbed look on the crew’s faces thinking, like, What is this? What are we shooting?”
David Wain has become the director I look to when I want something genuinely funny. As it was put during the night by the moderator, “Now that you have the resources of a major studio, you’ve sorta become known as the Stanley Kubrick of comedy.” True to his brilliant sense of humor, Wain was quick to correct that statement: “Right, people have been saying, ‘the Stanley Kubrick of movies.'”