By Chaz Lipp
As Jason Sudeikis prepares his fake “family” to trick border guards into letting them back into the U.S. from Mexico (they’re smuggling “a smidge” of marijuana in their RV), he mutters under his breath, “Okay, Miller time.”
It barely qualifies as a joke, but it’s also one of many throwaway asides that had me laughing throughout We’re the Millers. David Clark (Sudeikis) lost his money and his stash in a robbery. In lieu of paying back the $43,000 he owes his supplier, bigwig Brad (Ed Helms), he accepts a trafficking mission that sends him south of the border. A shaggy, 30something layabout, David feels he’ll get searched at the border for sure—unless he has a family to accompany him. They always wave the obvious tourists through, he reasons.
Offering a rather small cut of his expected payoff, he convinces two people in his apartment building, stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston) and latchkey kid Kenny (Will Poulter), and runaway Casey (Emma Roberts) to join him. Predictably, quite a bit goes wrong as they pick up the goods and attempt to make their way back. Happily much of it is funny, with a few really uproarious segments. It’s all pretty tasteless (no surprise to anyone who has seen any of the red-band trailers) but, for better or worse, the team of four screenwriters and director Rawson Marshall Thurber have layered in plenty of sweet-natured sentiment.
Revealing too many of the gags in a movie like this is dirty pool. Sudeikis adopts a modified Chevy Chase persona that is mostly reactionary. Aniston and Roberts both have their share of fun moments, but Poulter wins “Most Valuable Miller” (Kenny’s spot-on version of the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ rap from TLC’s “Waterfalls” is a highlight). Stealing every scene he’s in, Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) plays the straight-laced Don Fitzgerald, also vacationing in Mexico in an RV with his wife Edie (Kathryn Hahn) and their daughter Melissa (Molly C. Quinn). The Fitzgerald’s come to the Miller’s aid after their RV breaks down, forcing the families to camp together for a night. A game of Pictionary by the campfire leads to some of the film’s heartiest laughs.
The perfunctory plot is fairly predictable and the script could’ve probably been sharpened. But in a summer that has delivered such comedic stillbirths as Grown Ups 2 and The Hangover Part’re III, We’re the Millers is a comparatively side-splitting relief.