Reviewed by Ian Forbes
PG-13 can often be the kiss of death for comedies. It limits the jokes to safe humor that simply doesn’t reflect real life most of the time. It can be done but let’s face it, most of the stuff the major studios are pumping out week after week is only meant to temporarily divert your attention; not much of it lingers in your memory banks.
Thankfully, We’re the Millers is rated R. Its humor can at times be crude, is often sexual, and is just what the doctor ordered amidst a heap of big budget summer movies all clamoring to proclaim their special effects better than their competition. And yes, I know it features Jennifer Aniston but nothing’s perfect.
In the film, a small time drug dealer (Jason Sudeikis) is forced by his supplier (Ed Helms) to smuggle an RV full of marijuana from Mexico back to the United States. In order to avoid suspicion, he hires a makeshift wife (Jennifer Aniston) and kids (Will Poulter & Emma Roberts) and they become the Millers. Like any standard script, it all starts out well and then devolves as the lies and stakes get bigger and bigger. And while the plot progression could be predicted with the use of any screenwriting formula, it’s the collection of characters that make the movie work.
I’ve always found Sudeikis’ everyman kind of humor appealing and he capably carries the lead, with good performances from Aniston, Poulter, and Roberts. Poulter especially stands out, as the naïve, good-hearted simpleton who has ensconced himself into this otherwise jaded ‘family’. His innocence is what allows the others’ actions to resonate comedically. Cameos by Thomas Lennon, Luis Guzmán, and Ken Marino also keep the laughs coming; though it’s Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn, playing an actual set of RV enthusiasts, who spend the most time with the Millers.
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber hasn’t made a comedic feature since Dodgeball in 2004 and that’s unfortunate, considering how often I’ve re-watched that underrated film and how much I laughed at We’re the Millers. He seems to understand ensemble comedy quite well. The film does hit a few slow spots when they get to the expected character realizations about how much they enjoy their fake family, but is otherwise fairly consistent in delivering some pretty good humor. I’ll have to see if this grows in my esteem upon repeated viewings once this hits the home market but if you’re looking for a funny film in theaters right now, there’s no better choice … R-rated or otherwise.
We’re the Millers opens in theaters on August 7, 2013 and is rated R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity.
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