|Emma Roberts, Will Poulter & Jennifer Aniston (r) in We're the Millers|
It's Miller Time
Allow me to be frank: I didn't have high expectations for Rawson Marshall Thurber's We're the Millers. Even less after a cheesy two-minute infomercial attached to the trailers, where stars Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis talk about how funny they're going to be: I wonder what marketing "genius" thought that one up? So imagine my surprise when I (and most of my screening audience) spent a good third of the movie doubled over in laughter? We're the Millers is crude, sophomoric and often hilarious. Vulgar humor is deceptively hard to get right; but in this case, Thurber and his cast of family misfits hit the ball out of the park.
Rotten Tomatoes Plot: David Burke (Jason Sudeikis) is a small-time pot dealer whose clientele includes chefs and soccer moms, but no kids-after all, he has his scruples. So what could go wrong? Plenty. Preferring to keep a low profile for obvious reasons, he learns the hard way that no good deed goes unpunished when he tries to help out some local teens and winds up getting jumped by a trio of gutter punks. Stealing his stash and his cash, they leave him in major debt to his supplier, Brad (Ed Helms). In order to wipe the slate clean-and maintain a clean bill of health-David must now become a big-time drug smuggler by bringing Brad's latest shipment in from Mexico. Twisting the arms of his neighbors, cynical stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston) and wannabe customer Kenny (Will Poulter,) and the tatted-and-pierced streetwise teen Casey (Emma Roberts), he devises a foolproof plan. One fake wife, two pretend kids and a huge, shiny RV later, the "Millers" are headed south of the border for a Fourth of July weekend that is sure to end with a bang.
What’s Best: We're the Miller relies on prepared one-liners to handle the heavy lifting, and screenwriters Steve Faber and Bob Fisher (both of Wedding Crashers fame) provide all the right spots. Perhaps not all that even in its distribution, the comedy flows in spurts: A "boner garage" tattoo, Kenny's kissing lesson and the funniest wrong guess in the history of karaoke, 'Black Cock Down!' You have to be a straight-up sourpuss not to laugh out loud at least a few times.
The performers play second fiddle to the situations, but I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't impressed with Ms. Aniston... and not just because she executes a flawless striptease that belies the fact that she's my age (44.) All those rom-coms (some of which, even I mocked) have provided the former Friends star with impeccable comedic timing. Best of all, she does it without calling attention to herself (a unique skill to have in Hollywood.)
What’s Not: Thurber's movie sorta dies in spots, but rescues itself just in time (thanks especially to the Fitzgerald Express... Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn as fellow RVers who get caught up in all sorts of mischief with the Millers.) Not all of the jokes work as intended, such as Rose's 'My crotch only takes twenties' and the film's opening sequence where David gets 'rolled by the cast of Annie;' yet somehow it all seems to come together. Make no mistake: This isn't comic genius; but it doesn't have to be, so long as it makes you laugh.
Best Line: After drug dealers fill the Miller's RV with pot, Casey opens the refrigerator and remarks, 'I think Snoop Dogg would f*ck this fridge.' That barely beats out David's 'You shouldn't feel nervous about kissing a girl. You damn near sucked a dude's dic*!' to lovable but clueless 18-year-older Kenny.
Overall: Referring to your vibrator as 'Joe Morgan' normally wouldn't work on a cynic like me; but I found myself laughing way more than I expected to. Pleasant surprises like We're the Millers are the reason I trot out to watch several movies each week: You never know when you're gonna find gold.
P.S. Many of you have asked, "Who's the girl with the boner-garage tattoo?" She's Laura-Leigh, a Juilliard graduate/participant on Bravo's reality TV show Vanderpump Rules.