We’re The Millers (**½)

were_the_millersSporadically entertaining but mostly just the kind of comedy that offers up jokes we’ve heard before, We’re The Millers is perhaps slightly better than you’d expect, but it’s also a bit of a missed opportunity. By trying to walk the line between R rated humor and PG-13 road trip humor, director Rawson Marshall Thurber and writers Sean Anders, Steve Faber, Bob Fisher, and Bob Morris wind up giving you hints of what seems like two different movies at play. Neither particularly work, but neither are especially bothersome either. Jennifer Aniston is having a lot of fun being a little more raunchy than usual, while Jason Sudeikis shows decent enough comedy leading man chops (though ironically enough I kept envisioning Louis C.K. in the role instead). This is the sort of broad comedy that has lots going on that could prove satisfying, but not enough effectiveness to really make anyone too pleased. I laughed here and there, but honestly the funniest stuff is contained in the end credit outtakes, especially a gag on Aniston that references “Friends.” There’s been a shortage of funny movies this year, and while this one doesn’t reverse the trend, it’s nowhere near the worst comedy of 2013…not by a long shot.

David Burke (Sudeikis) is a manchild who spends his days and nights dealing pot to a wide clientele, though his one moral stand is not selling to minors. Among the neihbors in his apartment building are wannabe customer/awkward virgin teen Kenny (Will Poulter) and exotic dancer Rose (Aniston). When David and Kenny try to help out a vagrant kid named Casey (Emma Roberts), David winds up losing his stash, which results in his rich supplier Brad (Ed Helms) recruiting him for a new job. Instead of selling, David now will be smuggling drugs in from Mexico. In order to avoid prison (and collect the hundred grand that Brad’s promised him), David convinces Casey, Kenny, and Rose to pose as his family. They’d get an RV, drive down to Mexico, pick up the weed, and drive back unnoticed. Of course, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Even more obviously, David and Rose find themselves slowly becoming attracted to each other. Along the way, they run into some quirky characters and zany situations that you see coming a mile away. Some of them are amusing, but not one of them is surprising in the least bit. This very much is what it is.

The move to comedy has been a good one for Jennifer Aniston. She’s able to utilize her comic timing and not have to carry a movie with dramatic weight. This is in Aniston’s wheelhouse and she’s got an extra spark in her step with the dirty jokes. She’s not as memorable as she was in Horrible Bosses, but it’s a solid comedic turn. Jason Sudeikis is fine and also not quite as solid as in that other film he was in with Aniston, but he’s hardly a problem here. Like I mentioned above, I sort of imagined a better movie with C.K. in his part, but that’s more my issue than anything else. Emma Roberts is decent but underused here. She’s set up to have some good lines, but more often than not the script wastes Roberts. The same goes for Will Pouter, but he’s annoying at times, so he’s even more of a wash. Among the supporting turns, we have the aforementioned Ed Helms, along with folks like Luis Guzman, Kathryn Hahn, Thomas Lennon, Ken Marino, and Nick Offerman. No one’s great, but no one’s terrible either. Aniston is the highlight, but mostly due to her being game to perform a striptease.

Rawson Marshall Thurber is a very workmanlike director, and overall that’s not a terrible thing here. Thurber is hardly what’s keeping me from embracing the flick. His direction is low key and does the trick, though he’s just working with an inferior screenplay. The script by Sean Anders, Steve Faber, Bob Fisher, and Bob Morris just doesn’t deserve its almost two hour running length. Anders, Faber, Fisher, and Morris have a very average story here and they never quite do anything unique with it, short of adding some dirtier humor than usual, and even that is inconsistent. Either more sweetness or more of an edge would have been an asset here, but alas, that was not to be.

We’re The Millers is not free of laughter, but it is missing the comic spark that makes you give yourself over to the jokes. If there’s a reason to see this, it might simply be to see Jennifer Aniston strip, but that’s not enough of a reason for me to go out and recommend it to you. It’s a pretty damn average comedy in just about every single way. I’m not disappointed by the flick, but I am rather indifferent to it…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!