by George Wolf
Maybe the thing I appreciate most about We’re the Millers is the acoustic guitar.
The music provides an unmistakeable cue that it’s time to quit joking about family ties and get real about real feelings that are real. Just know these moments won’t last too long, and then it’s back to some pretty damn funny business.
Jason Sudeikis (SNL/Horrible Bosses/engaged to Olvia Wilde/life is good) plays David, a small time pot dealer in debt to a big time pot dealer (Ed Helms, possibly confusing those who still think he and Sudeikis are the same person). To stay alive, David just has to cross the border and bring back ” a smidge, maybe smidge and a half” of weed from Mexico.
He figures a vacationing family would attract less attention down Mexico way, so he recruits a local stripper (Jennifer Aniston) to pose as his wife. After rounding out the faux family with a nerdy neighbor (Will Poulter) as their son, and a young runaway (Emma Roberts) as their daughter, its time to pack up the RV and hit the road!
The four-man writing team at work here sports a decent résumé, featuring screenplays for Hot Tub Time Machine, She’s Outta My League and Wedding Crashers. If those don’t exactly go straight to your funny bone, or more pointedly, if you frown upon the raunchy, stay far away from We’re the Millers.
Otherwise, the film gets better as it moves along. The contrivance needed for some of the gags is usually wiggled out of pretty deftly, as director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball) shows a nice feel for the pacing needed to sell this premise.
Aniston, as she did in Horrible Bosses, proves extremely likable digging into a character’s dark comedic edges. True, playing a stripper offers yet another chance to serve up the cheesecake, but as well as she’s aging, it’s hard to blame her.
She and Sudeikis display a nice chemistry, especially when they’re bein’ bad, and they get solid support from Kathyrn Hahn (“AN-y-th-in” from Anchorman) and Nick Offerman (TVs Parks and Recreation) as fellow RV travelers with surprises for everyone.
There are also a couple “breaking the fourth wall” moments, and some great outtakes as the credits roll. Pandering? Sure, but funny.
The main problem is simple inconsistency. The successful skewering of family cliches is interrupted by awkward reminders that families really are good! Nice is nice and all, but when you hang with We’re the Millers, naughty is where the fun is.