Ah, the family road trip– the time-tested summer ritual that allows mom, dad, and kids to bond while also discovering some of America’s scenic wonders. From Vacation to Little Miss Sunshine, the cineplex has given us our fair share, so the trick is to offer something new and different; we don’t want to drive down the same tired highway over and over again, do we?
Apparently, a motley mixture of strippers, lewd Pictionary, unfortunately-located tarantula bites, and just a smidge of marijuana is just the ticket… which is exactly what we get in We’re the Millers.
The funniest thing since The Heat and among the funniest of the year, it’s reminiscent of The Hangover (the first one, not the sequels), Judd Apatow (in his more lewd and lascivious days), and even, yes, even the Griswolds themselves.
Jason Sudeikis stars as David Clark, Denver’s most prolific pot dealer. When he gets robbed and loses everything, he makes a deal with his super-rich drug boss Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms): head down to Mexico, retrieve the aforementioned smidge of pot, and all debts are forgiven.
Knowing he would be a red flag at the border, David decides that posing as a the patriarch of a white-bread family of aw-shucks tourists might do the trick, so he enlists his neighbors to fill the roles. Rose (Jennifer Aniston) is a stripper who loathes David’s very presence, Kenny (Will Poutler) is a clueless, virginal teen whose mom abandoned him, and Casey (Emma Roberts) is a street rat with a chip on her shoulder the size of Minnesota. They hop into their rented RV, and they’re off.
To make things even more interesting, the “smidge” of marijuana is actually enough to keep the entire population of Jamaica happy for the better part of a year, and after David and his “family” leave with the drugs, they discover that Gurdlinger was actually using David to steal from a Mexican kingpin– who is none too happy to discover he’s been liberated of hundreds of kilos of his product.
As it happens, the border crossing is actually the easiest part of the clan’s trip. Before all is said and done, the “Millers” will face everything from the angry kingpin and his henchman to a real family of aw-shucksy tourists, played to hilarity by Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn.
The raunch-filled comedy of errors starts early and never lets up, with far more of the jokes hitting than missing. Puritanical types will want to look the other way, though. The hilarity in We’re the Millers is more blue than an asphyxiated Smurf, capped by the spider bite scene that hearkens back to the stuck zipper bit from There’s Something About Mary.
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) is able to coax across-the-board solid performances from the cast, including Aniston– whose recent track record (Just Go With It, The Bounty Hunter, etc.) had me this close to giving up on her permanently. And though she may be among the least-convincing strippers you’ll come across (with a gratuitous Flashdance-esque scene that seems like nothing more than a scream for attention), her comedic chops seem to have returned intact from her long-ago Friends days.
The script-by-committee successfully bucks the too-many-cooks paradigm (despite the fact that the plot is fairly well telegraphed from the word go), and the result is a rock-solid comedy that is well worth the trip.
Plus it also serves as a very vivid educational tool about the dangers (and effects) of tarantula bites… so there’s that, too.