We’re the Millers is in amiable, light-hearted road movie in the wake of other comedies this year that have felt the need to capitalize off of their star-power or their mean-spiritedness. It’s a comedy that doesn’t feel the need to exist in the “raunch with heart” sector of comedies, not trying to channel comedy director Judd Apatow in any way. While it has heart, it doesn’t become too sentimental about its characters and, ultimately, winds up being a pretty “clean” R-rated comedy. There’s very little nudity, some four-letter words, and clear drug references based on the plot, but otherwise, this is surprisingly tame considering the fact that films like The Hangover: Part II stunningly squeak by with an R-rating.

The film stars probably the most fitting cast for a film about the creation of a fake family. Jason Sudeikis plays David, a small-time drug dealer looking to make a quick buck selling dime-bags out of his backpack for Brad (Ed Helms), his supplier. After being robbed, Brad sends him on a mission to pick up a “smidge and a half” of marijuana in Mexico. Because David already inherently looks pretty suspicious and sleazy, he gets the idea to rent an RV and create a fake family to throw off the border patrol guards as just another family on vacation. He throws together Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a stripper – who remains at least somewhat clothed during the entire movie – who lives in his apartment complex, Kenny (Will Poulter), an eighteen-year-old virgin who also lives in his complex, and Casey (Emma Roberts), a runaway who loves rolling her eyes, and they hit the road to pick up the marijuana, which turns out to be two metric tons rather than the predicted “smidge and a half.”

It’s no doubt that with a different writer and a maybe a different director that  We’re the Millers could’ve been a filthier movie. The fact that strippers are scene with bras and underwear on should be the indication that the film doesn’t fully exercise the rights given by its R-rating. But there doesn’t need to be a whole lot of nudity or swearing for a comedy to function, although, on occasion it does help. The film works largely in part due to the sophistication of its cast, who seem to take pride in their characters and their respective attitudes.

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The only thing that may come to your realization at the end is that some of their personality traits and depth, particularly Emma Roberts’ thuggish Casey, are somewhat underexploited. A character like her’s could’ve brought true laughs and true sadness and emotional depth to an otherwise fairly light-hearted story. The fact that she is given little to do – considering how she can be a very convincing screen presence – is pretty disappointing.

We’re the Millers
Rawson Marshall Thurber
Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Will Poulter, Emma Roberts, Ed Helms
Release Date
August 7, 2013
Influx Grade: B

Nonetheless, the remainder of the cast clicks on-sight. Sudeikis goes for a cleaned-up white guy in a rather hilarious way, Aniston proves that she can still be sexy in a couple dance sequences but, most importantly, totally owns the role of a fake-mother during the necessary moments, and Poulter brings likable, innocent chemistry to the screen. I think the performance that will go collectively unnoticed is the wild one given by Ed Helms, whose overacting and craziness is kind of underused here.

There is fun to be had with  We’re the Millers, and it’s pleasant to see a comedy not completely go overboard with sex-related dialog and needless cursing (although there are quite the incest jokes, especially during a hilarious kissing scene). As formulaic and has completely incredulous as it is, it’s smart enough to utilize its setup in an acceptably hilarious way and not try and overcompensate vulgarity as a substitute for humor.

Reviewed by Steve Pulaski

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