Thursday, May 22, 2014

We're the Millers - 2013

"We're the Millers" - 2013
Dir. by Rawson Marshall Thurber - 1 hr. 50 min.

Official Red Band Trailer #2

by Clayton Hollifield

Sometimes, all I want is a dirty comedy that's halfway as funny as the concept initially sounds, to blow a couple of hours laughing, to distract me from whatever I need distracting from.  "We're the Millers" is a movie that I had intended to catch in the theatres when it came around, it seemed like a good bet to deliver what I wanted out of it.  Both Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis have been good in these kinds of movies (like "Horrible Bosses," for instance), and the idea of a bunch of scumbags dressing up like dorks to pull off some serious felonious crime is solid enough.  I mean, you know that main characters are scumbags, and no matter how hard they try, they're not going to be able to completely fly under the radar.

David (Jason Sudeikis) is a low-level pot dealer in Denver, but a neighbor, Kenny (Will Pouter), decides to play hero for a street girl, Casey (Emma Roberts), which ends up with David getting beaten up and robbed of his supply and a significant amount of cash.  This leaves David with a problem: a lot of that money belonged to his boss, Brad (Ed Helms).  Brad proposes a solution; David can go down to Mexico and bring back a smidge and an a half of pot across the border.  For that, Brad will forgive the debt, plus pay David $100k.  David isn't down with that idea, but doesn't have a choice in the matter.  His plan, pretend to be a family of dorks on vacation in an RV, which will surely fly under everyone's radar.  David wrangles Casey and Kenny in on the plan, and has to convince a stripper that lives in his apartment building, Rose (Jennifer Aniston), to play his wife and take a little trip down to Mexico.

First up, the R-rating for "We're the Millers" is mostly due to language, and probably because there's a lot of drugs around in the movie (although no one seems to ever smoke any of mountains of weed that are laying around).  If you were hoping that it meant you were going to get to see Jennifer Aniston and her friends, you're out of luck (although she does have a nice strip-tease scene).  It's important to set your expectations at the right level.  This isn't really a gross-out comedy (like a Farrelly Bros movie), and there's not really any kind of hedonism on display, aside from a couple of scenes with another couple, played by Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn, which are funny mostly because of their tameness.  Much of the humor comes from how naturally the characters fall into their roles, as if the notion of an average American family is imprinted upon everyone, and slips on like a comfortable sweatshirt.  And there's a lot of sotto voce swearing, of course.

Really, the reason why this movie is pretty watchable and pretty funny is because there's a built-in structure (the need to move the RV from one place to another in an certain amount of time), and because the actors are good, and appropriate for their respective roles, and there's enough difference between them to allow for some natural friction.  And the actors involved generally do a good job.  There's a level of perverse fun in watching Jennifer Aniston be dirty after like a decade in sit-com land (and at an omnipresent amount of fame, as well) - there's a fantastic gag-reel bit in the credits involving the "Friends" theme song that had me laughing as hard as anything else in the movie.  Sudeikis probably isn't an asshole in real life, but he plays one well.  Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn are really good as the over-sharing couple that David and Rose can't seem to get away from.

Frequently, when I see a trailer for a comedy that seems like it's going to be okay, I end up being underwhelmed by the finished product.  The batting average seems even lower when we're talking about R-rated comedies.  Maybe people think that some swearing and maybe a flash of flesh is enough to justify $10 at the box office, but I don't usually leave the theatre feeling that way.  "We're the Millers" isn't a world-changing, all-time-great comedy, but it's at least as good as I thought it was going to be, and that's a victory in itself.

3 / 5 - TV (HD)

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