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Review: ‘We’re the Millers’ offers occasional highs


Rose Jennifer Aniston

David Jason Sudeikis

Casey Emma Roberts

Don Nick Offerman

Edie Kathryn Hahn

Kenny Will Poulter

Brad Ed Helms

New Line Cinema presents a film directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber and written by Bob Fisher & Steve Faber and Sean Anders & John Morris. Running time: 110 minutes. Rated R (for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity). Opens Wednesday at local theaters.

Updated: August 6, 2013 9:45PM

At times “We’re the Millers” almost dares you not to like it, taking you out of the movie with scenes that have you musing about the behind-the-scenes machinations.

Here is Jennifer Aniston, who is 44 and in amazing shape, playing one of those movie strippers who never quite gets naked. You watch her gyrating and pole-grasping and spinning about, and you can’t help but think, “Wow, that Jennifer Aniston sure looks great for her age!”

Or for any age, for that matter.

Then there’s the scene where the characters played by Aniston and Emma Roberts take turns making out with the young English actor Will Poulter, all in the name of teaching him how to kiss, and you think, “Gee, THAT must have been a good day on the set for Will Poulter!”

With a better movie, you’d be too involved to ponder such things. “We’re the Millers” is just good enough to keep you entertained, but not good enough to keep your mind from wandering from time to time.

This is an aggressively funny comedy that takes a lot of chances, and connects just often enough.

Playing the kind of role that might have appealed to Bill Murray circa 1985, Jason Sudeikis is David Clark, a disenfranchised loner who deals pot and isn’t interested in any human connection deeper than weed-for-cash. When David runs into an old college buddy who’s now married with children, he’s not the least bit embarrassed to acknowledge he’s basically living the same life he led 20 years ago.

But then David has a rare moment of humanity and tries to intervene on behalf of a neighbor kid named Kenny (Poulter) and a smartass homeless girl named Casey (Emma Roberts) who have run afoul of some hooligans, and it backfires big-time.

Suddenly deep in debt to drug kingpin Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms, and no, that’s not a typo), David has no choice but to accept Brad’s proposition: If David can transport a huge shipment of pot across the Mexican border, Brad will forgive the debt and also not kill David.

David comes up with a plan. It’s not a great plan, but it’s a plan. David rents a huge motor home, and persuades Rose the stripper, Kenny the kid whose mother doesn’t care about him and Casey the runaway to join him. Rose will pretend to be his wife, Kenny and Casey will be their teenage children. They’re the Millers! Who’s going to suspect a dorky family of being drug mules?

It’s a funky road trip, with the “Millers” bickering in a way that makes them seem like a real family, even as they encounter multiple roadblocks to their mission while Brad keeps the Bluetooth pressure on David to deliver. (In one of the film’s best visual running gags, Brad has the ultimate drug kingpin aquarium. It contains a whale. “I don’t like cars,” Brad explains.)

At various times, Rose, Kenny and Casey actually buy into the family dynamic. It’s up to David to remind them none of this is real. They’re being paid to do a job, and if they screw it up, it’s quite possible they’re all going to die.

We pretty much know how this road trip is going to end. It’s all about the journey.

The script is uneven but occasionally hilarious. Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn provide terrific spark as the Fitzgeralds, a cornpone couple who befriend the Millers. Helms is wildly miscast as the ruthless drug kingpin, but I suppose that’s the point. It’s hit-and-miss stuff.

Sudeikis is a likable actor, but he’s edgier than most comic actors without even trying — and that serves him well in this role. We believe this guy could be a complete jerk, and we believe he has some redeeming qualities.

Jennifer Aniston? She tries hard and gives her usual competent performance. At times there’s a self-consciousness to her work that prevents her from owning a film scene. The quirks that made her so endearing on TV come across as mannered on the big screen.

Which brings us to the blooper reel. You know those outtakes that run alongside the closing credits of some comedies? Where the actors are way more amused by the foul-ups and practical jokes than the audience?

You should stick around for the “We’re the Millers” bloopers reel.

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