R-rated comedies have become all the rage these days. While some are hilarious, such as the original "The Hangover", "Horrible Bosses" and "This Is The End", others like "Grown Ups", "Grown Ups 2" and "The Watch" have lowered the standard of comedies to an all-time abyss. "We're the Millers" falls somewhere in the middle.
David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) is a small-time purveyor of marijuana in Denver, Colorado. He eschews marriage and family --- commitment of any kind. His nerdy teenage neighbor, Kenny (Will Poulter), jumps to the aid of homeless Casey (Emma Roberts) when a trio of thugs tries to steal her cell phone. David feels compelled to keep Kenny from getting his head kicked in, and in the process, Kenny lets it slip that David is a drug dealer.
After these guys totally clean him out of money and drugs, David is now in hock to his major supplier Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms), another nerdy white boy with a boatload of money, whom David knew in college. He proposes a way for David to pay him back --- drive to Mexico and bring back a "smidge" of marijuana. At first David balks, then he realizes all he needs is a good cover and he can do this. So he convinces his other neighbor, Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a crusty old stripper, to pose as his wife, and Kenny
and Casey, their children, by offering them all cash for the ruse.
Obviously, everything that can go wrong, does, but getting there is part of the fun. Watching Sudeikis transform himself from a pothead to a "family" man is hysterical --- especially the haircut scene. Unfortunately, there is also the stupid stuff involving potential male-on-male fellatio and spider bites to the testicles, but this is nowhere as debased as "Grown Ups 2".
Sudeikis and Aniston make a terrific pair, so that, too, adds to the enjoyment. Having her play the part of a stripper gives her plenty of opportunity to show off her incredibly toned body --- so good for her!
Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn appear as a dowdy couple, Don and Edie Fitzgerald, thinking they've hit the jackpot in meeting Rose and David, with a foursome in the offing. But the best in the cast is Poulter --- this kid has a very expressive face. He's a hoot!
"We're the Millers" is senseless, mindless entertainment. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber doesn't take any risks, but sometimes, you just need a good laugh.
Opinion: Mild See It Now!
The real stars of this unexpectedly hilarious comedy --- yes, hilarious is not an exaggeration --- may just be its casting directors, veterans Lisa Beach and Sarah Katzman. These two ladies collaborated on the outrageously funny "Horrible Bosses" a couple of years ago, and had the foresight to cast "Bosses" cast members Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston in "We're the Millers".
Futhermore, the remaining players in this film are no slouches when it comes to comedic timing. One by one, they include 20-year-old Will Poulter, Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece of Julia), Ed Helms, Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn. I'll also add Matthew Willig into the mix, a hulking ex-NFL'er --- I'm still chuckling over the outtake of Willig and Sudeikis during the closing credits.
Rather than rehash the plot line --- Jeanne usually does a splendid job of that --- I'll simply emphasize that "We're The Millers" may be the surprise comedy of the year. Part of its effectiveness is the writing, by a quartet of contributors, which doesn't rely on one-liners or gross bathroom humor to invoke laughter. Instead they manage to foreshadow many of the comic situations for subsequent payoffs.
That's not to say this film is not raunchy. It has its moments, but they are truly laugh-out-loud --- something I am not usually prone to doing in a movie theater. I've always maintained that making a good comedy is the most difficult thing to do in film. It's worth it to suffer through every Adam Sandler clunker if just occasionally a clever script like "We're the Millers" comes along.
Sudeikis is a fearsomely funny actor, and he's also a fearless comedian. To deliver the lines as he does, he must have a strong faith that the material will resonate with a general audience. He recently left SNL for a full-time film career --- good news for us moviegoers. As for Aniston, she is perfectly fine if given decent material, and here she is as good as she's ever been as Rose, the downtrodden stripper who reluctantly joins David Clark (Sudeikis) on his drug-smuggling mission to Mexico.
I particularly thought young Poulter and Hahn were marvelous in their roles. They both show a mastery for physical humor in this movie. And of course, Helms gives another reliable performance, here as a white-collar drug czar who bamboozles Clark, much to his chagrin. I'm not sure if "We're The Millers" will be a critical success, but if our screening audience is any indication, the masses will love it.
Opinion: See It Now!