Film tears strip off family values
We’re the Millers
Two stars (out of four)
We’re the Millers asks you to believe that somewhere in this world there’s a pot dealer who prides himself on not selling to kids and a stripper who never takes her bra off.
It’s all in the service of gross-out comedy (how many times must I write this descriptor this year?) that sends David (Horrible Bosses’ Jason Sudeikis, recently departed from SNL) on a fool’s errand to try to repay his gleefully nasty drug lord Brad (The Hangover’s Ed Helms) whom he owes after a spot of bother with some thieving thugs made off with his stash and his cash.
Brad tells Dave a quick jaunt to Mexico to ferry “a smidge or mary-juana” across the border will erase his debt, plus result in a cash incentive. It’s an offer Dave can’t refuse, but how to organize the haul without a trip to the slammer?
Dave hits on the bright idea that no border guard would look twice at an all-American family heading south for some authentic chimichangas on the Fourth of July, then coming back to the land of the free and the brave.
But where does a lone dealer find a family?
Enter his sarcastic stripping neighbour Rose (Jennifer Aniston, aka the peeler who doesn’t), snide street kid Casey (Emma Roberts) and loveable innocent teen from his building, Kenny (the magnificently eyebrow-endowed Will Poulter). David offers to share the wealth with the crew, reminding a reluctant Rose this isn’t drug dealing, it’s a higher calling: smuggling!
Soon they’re scrubbed, buffed and puffed and re-branded as the Millers.
Directed by Dodgeball’s Rawson Marshall Thurber, the screenplay by Bob Fisher and Steve Faber (Wedding Crashers) and Sean Anders and John Morris (Hot Tub Time Machine) initially offers some comic promise as we watch these trash-talking low-lifes struggle to get all American.
But the wheels fall off the Winnebago rather quickly as the story takes the same bumpy road as the newly minted Miller’s massive RV, getting off at easy gags instead of taking a more scenic story route.
Do we need to see the results of a spider bite to Kenny’s testicle? Why yes, we do. In fact, let’s show them the whole kit and caboodle as long as we’re down there.
The red-band trailer pretty much does the entire movie in under three minutes if time is tight this week. Or rent 2012’s Wanderlust with Aniston and Paul Rudd. It’s pretty much all there.
Still, Sudeikis is certainly the most likable drug dealer you’re ever going to meet. He and Aniston, who is not without comic talents and is rocking an admirable hot body she’s obviously worked hard to acquire, despite her no-nudity clause, have solid chemistry onscreen, especially with a running gag revolving around a decoy baby.
The problem with We’re the Millers is the fun times never last.
A trailer park meet-up with fellow RVers, the Fitzgeralds (Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn) a pair of uptight campers curious about taking a walk on the wild side is fun, if not predictable. But a no-it’s-not incest make-out scene is so creepy it may make you want to stick your head in the popcorn bucket.
Linda Barnard is a syndicated Toronto Star movie critic.