It hasn’t been a particularly memorable year at the movies, especially for those in search of a good comedy, so it’s a relief to see a film like “We’re the Millers” arrive in theaters, because although it’s not as funny as its behind-the-scenes talent might suggest, it’s one of the better comedies released thus far. Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”) and co-written by the guys behind “Wedding Crashers” and “Hot Tub Time Machine,” “We’re the Millers” doesn’t break any new comedic ground, but it’s packed with some great laughs and an ensemble cast that seems game for just about anything, no matter how outrageous or inappropriate it may be.
“SNL” veteran Jason Sudeikis stars as David Clark, a low-level drug dealer who gets robbed one night by a group of thugs, losing his entire stash and personal savings in the process. His slimeball boss (Ed Helms) doesn’t take the news well, but he offers David a chance to make amends by smuggling a “smidge” of marijuana across the Mexican border in exchange for a clean slate and $100,000. David knows that a single guy traveling alone in an RV will only draw attention from the border police, so he recruits a fake family to serve as a disguise, including the stripper who lives in his apartment building (Jennifer Aniston), the dorky virgin next door (Will Poulter) and a bratty teen runaway (Emma Roberts). But when they arrive in Mexico, the aforementioned “smidge” turns out to be a few metric tons, and worse yet, it belongs to someone else, forcing the ersatz Miller family on the run from a ruthless drug lord.
“We’re the Millers” is every bit as formulaic as the typical road trip movie, but the cast makes up for those generic story beats with some winning performances, and they all pull their weight equally. In fact, although Sudeikis is technically the film’s lead, he’s actually the weakest link of the bunch, relying too much on his one-note wisecracking to realize that he’s being outshined by the rest of his “family.” Aniston should tap into her naughty side more often, because the actress delivers one of her more enjoyable roles to date as the stripper-turned-housewife (she even appears to be having fun during her big striptease sequence, despite the fact that it’s very PG-13), while Poulter steals nearly every scene he’s in, whether it’s rapping along to TLC’s “Waterfalls,” getting bitten on the testicles by a spider, or making out with his fake sister and mom in one of the most hilariously awkward scenes in recent memory.
The supporting cast isn’t nearly as strong – Ed Helms’ character, in particular, is basically a walking cartoon – but Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn provide a few laughs as a pair of fellow campers that the Millers meet on their journey, though they should have been used more sparingly. What’s perhaps most surprising about “We’re the Millers,” however, is that the trailers haven’t ruined all the good bits, which is very telling of just how funny the movie is at times. It’s also oddly sweet (although admittedly cheesy) in the way that the Millers gradually evolve into a real family over the course of the film, even if you can see that development coming from a mile away. Still, “We’re the Millers” could have been a lot worse, and while it drags on for a little too long, it’s definitely worth seeing if your summer has been as noticeably short on laughs as mine.