Short Starts is a column devoted to kicking off the week with a short film, typically one tied to a new release. Today we look the first film by David Wain, who directed and co-wrote "Wanderlust," which opens Friday.
Ads for the new comedy "Wanderlust" mention that it's from the director of "Role Models," a relevant yet insufficient claim which is like touting the next Woody Allen movie simply as being from the director of "Midnight in Paris." I get Hollywood's need to be contemporary for the short memories of the mainstream, but for those of us who are big fans of David Wain's earlier, sillier work, it doesn't have the same weight as including "Wet Hot American Summer" at least somewhere among the marketing materials.
Does this mean that "Wanderlust" will again be too conventional a comedy for people who prefer the anarchic, surreal and satirical humor that Wain's been well associated with since being a part of the MTV show "The State," as well as subsequent projects "Stella," "Wainy Days" and his sophomore feature, "The Ten"? We'll see. For now, we can look back at the beginning of his career with his award-winning NYU student film from 1991, "Aisle Six." You can see this absurd 18-minute, 16mm short, which is also included in the new "Wainy Days" DVD, in full (in two parts) below, courtesy of New York Magazine:
You should recognize a couple actors in that film who went on to continue collaborating with Wain. Thomas Lennon and Joe Lo Truglio were also on "The State" and have appeared in other works by the director. Lo Truglio even appears in "Wanderlust." And in turn Wain (and Lo Truglio) has also appeared with Lennon on the show "Reno 911!" Partly because it features a couple of guys from "The State" (plus it's produced by Michael Patrick Jan, who later directed much of the "State" filmed skits before helming the underrated movie "Drop Dead Gorgeous," and features music by Craig Wedren, who did the "State" theme song and has scored Wain's other films, including "Wanderlust"), this short definitely has the feel of being like an extended sketch from that show. It makes me wish the once-promised "State" movie would actually come to fruition.
Other people involved with "Aisle Six" are a mystery. Wain co-wrote the film with an H. Michael Feldman (also a co-editor), who doesn't seem to have any other credits afterward. I'm also curious what became of producer/editor/cinematographer David Kramer, as well as most of the other actors. If you're a child of the '80s, you may recognize the guy who plays the subject of the mockumentary, Brad. That's Kipp Marcus, who played the son of the Beav' on "The New Leave it To Beaver" (he can also be seen in the "Friday the 13th" movie "Jason Goes to Hell"). One casting credit I'm also curious about is that of the "announcer," which was performed by voice actor Larry Kenney ("Lion-O" from "Thundercats"), whose daughter, Kerri Kenney-Silver, has been part of "The State," "Reno 911!" and many other Lennon and Wain collaborations and now also co-stars in "Wanderlust." I wonder why she wasn't also in the film herself.