“We’re the Millers”, the new film from “Dodgeball” director Rawson Marshall Thurber which reunites “Horrible Bosses” co-stars Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston, is a prime example of an adult comedy that squanders its “R” rating on silly dialogue and contrived raunchiness. Sometimes lazy but more often feeling like it’s trying too hard to fit in with its gross-out contemporaries, “Millers” never really scratches the surface of its actors’ comic potential, dumping all its stock in a premise that, quite literally, goes south.
Sudeikis, who is typically funny even when he’s in a film that’s not particularly memorable (think “Hall Pass” and “A Good Old Fashioned Orgy”), plays a Denver pot dealer who assembles a fake family out of his neighbors – a financially strapped stripper (Aniston), a rebellious young drifter (Emma Roberts) and a teenage nebbish (Will Poulter) – in order to allay suspicion from customs while smuggling a ‘smidge’ of weed back from Mexico for his yuppie boss (Ed Helms) in a rented RV. Turns out this smidgen is more like two tons of the green stuff, a stash that really belongs to the leader of a Mexican drug cartel (Tomer Sisley) who, with goons in tow, follows them back to the states to retrieve it (lucky for them, this guy is more easily distracted by an impromptu PG-rated striptease than he is focused on recovering his product).
At about the thirty minute mark, “We’re the Millers” seems like it’s on the verge of something hilarious – at least I remember thinking, “this could get really funny” after a moderately humorous setup including a killer whale consuming a dolphin in the background of Helms’ ostentatious aquarium/office – but the film takes a turn down a very familiar road, so to speak, blemished with constant, overly descriptive profanity, woefully unfunny plot developments and an overall lack of creativity.
Sadly, even the “comic relief” in this comedy comes up short. An encounter with a straight arrow couple played by Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”) and Kathryn Hahn (“Wanderlust”) doesn’t add much flavor to the proceedings; a subsequent rendezvous at a campground in which Sudeikis and Aniston are mistaken for swingers dissolves like a crappy SNL skit. And the rest of the film, when it doesn’t feel slapped together, is just incredibly predictable.
Though certainly not the worst of the summer (“Grown Ups 2” easily grabs that slot, with at least two runners-up ahead of it), “Millers”, which was conceived by “Wedding Crashers” scribes Bob Fisher and Steve Faber and the guys who wrote “She’s Out of My League”, is a weak, by-the-numbers road trip comedy that churns out material that feels like it was collected off the cutting room floor of a much funnier movie. With only a few memorable laughs, this drive through cricketville is barely serviceable as a distraction, jackrabbiting along to each requisite R-rated comedy scenario with characters who behave like they’ve been there a thousand time before. Admittedly, some sight gags are enough to keep us from falling asleep in our popcorn; a scene depicting the aftermath of a spider bite on one character’s genitals is bound to stir up some audible chuckles, as it did in my screening, and there’s something oddly satisfying about watching a thickly-mustached Nick Offerman kicking a bad guy’s ass with a metal coffee pot. Still, if you’re looking for a clever knee-slapper or even a new level of gross-out comedy, “We’re the Millers” sure as hell ain’t it.