We’re the Millers

Rating: I took Thamer, my 21-year old Saudi exchange student, along with me, and he laughed throughout the film. When in doubt, young men make wonderful spare tires.

We're the MillersSome comedies are wildly hysterical, others are a wretched mess, and the remainder leave you laughing while occasionally shaking your head. The best are reflected by this year’s The Heat, the worst Grownups 2 and the middle by We’re the Millers.

In a sense, We’re the Millers strikes the same loveable chord as Director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s only other film, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004). Good grief, Dodgeball was one of the last films where Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn were actually funny, so you certainly have to give Mr. Thurber the benefit of any doubt with We’re the Millers.

More importantly, this movie hits the same funny bone as a prior film that again starred Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, Horrible Bosses (2011). Ms. Aniston throws her good girl image out the window by playing a sex-crazed dentist in Bosses and a debt-ridden stripper in Millers. Sudeikis goes from an employee with an arrogant boss that he wants to kill to a drug dealer in over his head, and his affability helps carry both films.

Briefly stated, in We’re the Millers Mr. Sudeikis is deep in debt when his drug boss gives him the opportunity to make a big pot score in Mexico. While you have to ignore the tiresome clown persona of Ed Helms as the big cheese, Sudeikis comes up with a plan to fake a family vacation in an RV to get an anticipated small amount of pot across the border.

Enlisting the desperate Ms. Aniston as his wife, he coaxes a pathetic teenage boy living alone next to him (Will Poulter) to travel as his son and the funky Emma Roberts to tag along as his daughter. This is a pseudo-family lacking any love or affection, and their attempts to sell themselves as a functioning unit is at times as funny as it is ridiculous.

Regardless, their trip to Mexico results in their RV being stocked with several tons of marijuana, something a bit larger than expected. Knowing they’ve been tricked, our deranged group has no choice but to try to get back to the States, and what follows is a rollicking adventure from Hell.

While Ms. Aniston is an anticipated stripper with a good heart, Mr. Sudeikis cares about nothing other than his big financial score when they deliver the pot. The kids mean as little as Aniston to him, and everything that occurs rotates around him.

But let me remind you that this is an “R” rated film, and the humor can be nearly as offensive as it is comedic. The “f word” flows like mother’s milk, and there is a wretched moment in Mexico when their RV is stopped by a local officer played by Luis Guzman. While he knows they are transporting drugs, he agrees to let them go for either a large bribe or oral sex with one of the male members of the family. That puts Sudeikis and Poulter in a difficult spot, and half the audience laughed while the other half mumbled, “Oh Christ, no.”;

While that feeling permeated the film, it still has a warm glow that captures you in the end. Emma Roberts, a near lookalike for her Oscar-winning aunt, Julia Roberts, continues a career that shows great promise. A street girl here who is both angry and inconsiderate, you never lose sight of her on the screen. And if you are having trouble remembering who she is, hunt down both Celeste & Jesse Forever (2012) and It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010). She’s only 22, and we’re going to hear a lot from her in the future.

Let me repeat that there are some wretched movies passing as comedies that frequently find their way to the big screen. Kevin James is flat-out appalling in such catastrophe’s as Here Comes the Boom (2012); ZooKeeper (2011); Grownups (2010) and Paul Blart, Mall Cop (2009).

With the exception of the mildly entertaining Funny People (2009) and Spanglish (2004), all audience members should be required to pay a fine when seeing any Adam Sandler film. And while Ben Stiller occasionally hits pay dirt with movies like Tropic Thunder (2008), he is also profoundly tedious in such regrettable endeavors as The Watch (2012) and Little Fockers (2010).

Yet despite the folly of the above-named films, We’re the Millers wins you over with its undeniable charm. Yet it is no wonder that this is one of those films appealing to a young male audience, as what poor slob wouldn’t want to play with the fantasy of having Jennifer Aniston as your stripper wife and Emma Roberts as your daughter?