While the movie doesn't always light up the big screen, the Jason Sudeikis-Jennifer Aniston dope smuggling comedy "We're the Millers" has enough laughs in it to make it an above-average summer comedy. True, there's not nearly the amount of inspired laughs as there were in such early summer offerings as "The Heat" or "This is the End," but there's enough in "We're the Millers" that's funny -- and even sweet -- to make it a worthwhile road comedy.
Sudeikis plays David, a small-time pot dealer in Denver who runs into trouble with his loopy supplier, Brad (Ed Helms), after thugs boost him for $43,000 worth of stash and cash. Brad has a solution for his old college friend, though: Go across the Mexican border, smuggle back "a smidge" of marijuana, and they'll call it even.
Trying to find a way to not look suspicious crossing the border, David hires a fake family to go with him for the trip, including Rose (Aniston), a stripper in his apartment building, his naive neighbor, Kenny (Will Poulter), and Casey (Emma Roberts), a feisty, homeless teenager. Renting an RV to make the run, the new "family," whom David dubs "The Millers," find out they're in for more than they bargained for when the "smidge" of marijuana their picking up happens to be 2 tons worth. Worse yet, Brad didn't tell David that he's actually scamming the load off a notorious drug supplier, who is none too happy about it.
See my review of "We're the Millers" on "KARE 11 News at 11" with Diana Pierce below.
Saddled with a predictable script peppered with rude and crude humor, director Rawson Marshall Thurber ("Dodgeball") makes the best of what he has to work with in "We're the Millers," transforming a film that appears doomed in the first act into a decent comedy by the film's conclusion. Naturally, it has all the sort of forced comedy and over-the-top hi-jinks you'd expect from a road comedy -- but supporting turns by Nick Offerman ("Parks and Recreation") and Kathryn Hahn ("Step Brothers") as a pair of happy-go-lucky pair of tourists with some intimacy issues provide a welcome detour.
While Sudeikis and Roberts are solid, the biggest revelation to emerge from the film is Poulter, who steals the show as Kenny by taking a one-dimensional role as the film's "loser" and turning it into a surprising performance with some heart. He's hilarious, too, singing and rapping along to TLC's "Chasing Waterfalls," and reacting to a vicious spider bite to his crotch region that swells to gigantic proportions.
Of course, the big push in the trailers and TV spots for "We're the Millers" is Aniston, who amply shows off her ageless 44-year-old body in the film's strip tease scenes. And while there's no question she looks amazing in the film, the biggest win for her coming out of "We're the Millers" is her choice again to take on a riskier, R-rated role, much like 2011's "Horrible Bosses," where she can still try to shake her "Friends" image. Here, she's great as a bitter stripper with a wicked edge who's looking for a clean slate.
If you still want a bit of Aniston from the "Friends" era, you'll get that, too, but in an indirect sort of way during the outtakes during the end credits.
"We're the Millers," rated R, 2 1/2 stars out of 4.
See the trailer for "We're the Millers" below
What other local critics are saying ...
Chris Hewitt says in his 3 star Pioneer Press review that the big picture is nothing special compared to other road-trip misadventures, "but what distinguishes "We're the Millers" is that those little things add up to some mighty big laughs."
Star Tribune contributing critic Kara Nesvig gives "We're the Millers" 2 1/2 stars, calling it a "decently amusing R-rated comedy," even though it's "incredibly predictable from start to finish."
Bring Me The News film critic Tim Lammers is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and annually votes on the Critics Choice Movie Awards. Locally, he also reviews films on “KARE 11 News at 11.” As a feature writer, Tim has interviewed well over 1,000 major actors and filmmakers throughout his career and his work is syndicated nationwide.