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'We're the Millers' review: Not high comedy

From left, Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis

From left, Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis and Will Poulter in a scene from "We're the Millers." Credit: AP

In "We're the Millers," Jason Sudeikis plays David Clark, a familiar man-boy still sporting the jeans, sneakers and backpack of his youth -- but with a twist. In that backpack are the day's marijuana drops. While his friends have moved on to spouses, kids and minivans, David is still an unattached, carefree pot dealer.

It's an interesting setup for what turns out to be a family-values comedy in disguise. When David's supplier (Ed Helms, playing against type as a sneering fat cat) forces him to haul an RV full of drugs over the Mexican border, David recruits a fake family as his disguise. A stripper named Rose (Jennifer Aniston) becomes his wife, while latchkey kid Kenny (Will Poulter) and teen runaway Casey (Emma Roberts) will be their kids. A few Supercuts later, the "Millers" are born.

"We're the Millers," directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber ("Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story"), has many good ideas, beginning with the counter-casting of Aniston, America's sweetheart, as a stripper (surely a widespread male fantasy). Poulter, as a naive teenager, and Sudeikis, playing a flippant hipster in the Bill Murray mold, form something like a father-son bond. As our misfit heroes form their own cohesive unit, there are one or two endearing moments.

But the movie too often goes for icky sexual humor. David sacrifices Kenny to a predatory gay cop, Casey kisses her "brother" and Rose is frequently slurred as "cheap" and "dirty." Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn play a seemingly straight couple with various kinks. We would still care despite all the raunch if "We're the Millers" weren't so thinly written (by two comedy duos from "Wedding Crashers" and "Hot Tub Time Machine").

What's accidentally interesting about "We're the Millers" is its politics. Like most romantic comedies, it pushes a conservative agenda of romance and the nuclear family, as everyone subconsciously falls into "normal" patterns of behavior. ("I'll turn this RV around and drive straight home," David threatens. "No drugs for anyone!") But the movie also takes a laissez-faire view, up to a point, of narcotics, with David portrayed not as a sleazeball but as a kind of friendly neighborhood milkman (one of his customers is a suburban mommy). A smarter, more thoughtful comedy could have made something interesting out of this material, but "We're the Millers" takes the easy route.

PLOT A pot dealer and a crew of misfits pose as a suburban family to make a cross-border drug run.


CAST Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts


BOTTOM LINE This family-values comedy in disguise could have been edgy and even endearing -- so why all the icky sexual humor? The charming cast, particularly Aniston, is ill used.

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