Monday, September 30, 2013

We're the Millers (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

 We're the Millers

Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball) attempts to helm a Farrelly Brothers type comedy with "We're the Millers" starring Jason Sudeikis of SNL and Jennifer Aniston. While the comedy does have some fun character-based jokes and authentic chemistry with most of the cast, the plot grows sparse in the midway point with tired repetitious gags. Think of a comedy update of Cheech & Chong with a bit of the original "Vacation" thrown in and you have most of the story.

Sudeikis plays David Clark, a role slightly against type as a scruffy pot dealer. Clark is in trouble with a horribly shallow and cruel head boss (Ed Helms) who has a live orca tank that chomps on bottlenose dolphins. Clark owes this annoying narcotic CEO money and somehow agrees to go to Mexico to pick up what looks like a semi truck load of marijuana. Although his pick up lines are less than compelling, he convinces Rose (Aniston) to act as his wife to make the international smuggling more benign. Although this defies logic in real life, David convinces a teenage neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter) to be his son, along with a homeless stranger Casey (Emma Roberts) to tag along as his teen daughter.

There are some humorous non-sequiturs and slips on the plane, as Casey forgets the ruse and becomes foul mouthed, while David is more and more flustered. Sudeikis does well aping the anal-retentive WASP, as he has done in many skits and he has a goofy out-of touchiness of a Chevy Chase.

Poulter also does well in his part as the anxious jittery teen. And Aniston is also capably entertaining as she oscillates between her former life as an exotic dancer and the masquerade of a suburban mom.

But although the repartee has some momentum, the plot goes in neutral as Kenny is forced to ponder giving oral sex to a cop (not funny, given its somber treatment) and also has some generic stereotypes of Mexican gangsters running around for far too long. Not to mention the all too frequent sight gag of swollen balls.

The first thirty minutes have some politically incorrect chuckles, but as the story grasps for explanation, it grows tedious.

The Midwestern rescuers Don (Nick Offerman) and Edie (Kathryn Hahn) are entertaining parodies of All-American suburbanites, but when we learn Don is an agent, he seems more a cut and paste copy of Jack Byrnes from "Meet the Parents".

Sudeikis is the anchor of the film, albeit a loose one. His one liners and embarrassing outbursts do hold together the bits of solid dialogue to be had, and override an oddly unaffecting soft porn scene featuring Aniston.

Aside from the initial scenes, there are better zany farces to be had. Forgo Mexico and try a more authentic Aniston in "Wanderlust", or take the cinematic family truckster and go to Wally World. It still makes for a middlebrow summer or fall but you will probably have a better time by film's end.

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