*** (out of our)
Road comedies can go wrong in so many ways. Look at last year’s “The Guilt Trip,” which star Seth Rogen essentially has disowned: The characters were crummy travel companions, and broad stabs at humor swung hard and usually missed. As Rogen said, “We shot that movie in the format that plays on airplanes only.”
In “We’re the Millers,” however, a fake family’s wild, drug-smuggling RV excursion becomes occasion for a funny trip with people who are fun to hang with even when they squabble. Small-time drug dealer David (Jason Sudeikis) learns a time-honored industry lesson: If someone steals your inventory, it’s on you to make it up to your boss. So David has no choice but to take the opportunity when his boss (Ed Helms), an old college pal who finds glee in being horrible, offers David a pardon if he retrieves “just a smidge” of marijuana from Mexico.
Inspired by a random family’s innocent dopiness, David recruits Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a cash-strapped stripper who works at “Brass and Ass,” Kenny (Will Poulter), a geeky neighbor kid whose mom ran out on him, and Casey (Emma Roberts), a homeless girl clearly in need of a support system. Boom: The “Millers” are ready to become international drug smugglers.
Sudeikis (a former Chicagoan) finally has found a big-screen starring role that doesn’t force him to overshadow his charm with smarm. As David, he’s witty and defensive but doesn’t come off like the arrogant D-bag of “Horrible Bosses” and “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy.”
More importantly, “We’re the Millers” just plain delivers in the laughs department, often with randomness that still fits the characters. After failing to romance a young girl, Kenny hugs her and advises, “Watch out for bears;” it’s well-played gags like this that help the film overcome cheap plot gimmicks like a family member’s spider bite. Unfortunately, “Millers” also has the honor of becoming the latest in a long string of films that depict all married men as claustrophobic and miserable. That narrative needs to stop.
And, because Denver strip clubs don’t routinely employ dancers in their mid-40s (so I’ve heard), it must be acknowledged: Aniston’s performance and physique will catch the eye of viewers of any gender or persuasion. I mean, barely-there lingerie. A shower. Enough said.
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