Movie review: The modestly funny ‘We’re the Millers’


From left, Jennifer Aniston, Will Poulter, Emma Roberts and Jason Sudeikis star in “We're the Millers.” (Michael Tackett/AP)
August 6, 2013

“We’re the Millers,” a raunchy, druggy, profanity-laced comedy starring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston, is a dog-days movie, the kind of left-handed programmer that slips easily onto screens in August, makes a few bills and exits without much notice. There’s nothing special about it — this is a movie made to exploit the hard-R successes of “The Hangover” and “Bridesmaids” — but it would be dishonest to claim it isn’t funny. The laughs may come in fits and starts, usually by way of sight gags and set pieces, but they do come. And then they go.

Sudeikis plays David, a middle-aged pot dealer whose career as easygoing weed man takes a turn when his boss (Ed Helms) forces him to travel to Mexico and bring back “a smidge” of “marriage-ya-wanna.” At first stymied by the prospect of evading border security, David lights on the idea of making the run in an RV while impersonating the clean-cut dad of an all-American family. He enlists a stripper named Rose (Aniston), a local runaway named Casey (Emma Roberts) and his young neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter) to scrub up, paste on Pepsodent smiles and for 72 hours pretend they can all stand each other.

Written by Hollywood technicians too numerous to mention, “We’re the Millers” hasn’t been crafted as much as expertly machined for maximum exploitation, whether it’s Aniston showcasing her killer bod in not one but two steamy strip scenes, or Sudeikis’s bland affability — which in this case is juxtaposed with a nearly unbroken stream of f-bombs and coarse, crass one-liners. The humor derives from the misdirect of such wholesome characters doing and saying such vile things, and several times it works: One of the funniest sequences features Kenny — who really is as innocent as he’s pretending to be — being taught how to kiss by his “sister” and his “mother.” Later, David and Rose fall into an amusingly staged “swinging” encounter with fellow RVers played by Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn.

The movie’s signature sight gag involves an errant tarantula and its unfortunate aftermath — a joke that seems to have been pulled off a shelf groaning with similar outre bits, lined up and classified like so many widgets (gigantically swollen body part, check). “We’re the Millers” features some memorable performances, including Offerman, Mark L. Young as Casey’s hilariously dim, hip-hopped-up suitor and Poulter, who proves to be a sweetly game straight man (in every sense of that word) and knows his way around a TLC song. “We’re the Millers” may not send the audience into any soaring highs, but it does produce a mild buzz.

We’re the Millers

★1/2

(109 minutes, at area theaters) is rated R for crude sexual content, pervasive profanity, drug material and brief graphic nudity.

Ann Hornaday is The Post's movie critic.
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