I shouldn’t approve of this dirty content, but I can’t deny that I laughed. We’re the Millers is a good adult time, a vulgar satire of a fake American family. The posters have already told us: Jason Sudeikis as a pot dealer, Jennifer Aniston as a stripper, Emma Roberts as a homeless runaway, Will Poulter as a socially awkward virgin. Together they unite on a mission to transport a half a ton of marijuana from Mexico across the border and back to a doofus kingpin (Ed Helms) in Denver. Bad taste humor runs amok as they trek by RV.
I was terribly queasy during a bribe scene with a Mexican cop that nearly ends in oral sex instead of a thousand dollar payout. But I laughed helplessly during a scene where fake sister Casey and fake mom Rose teach beguiled Kenny how to kiss. The majority of humor, though, depends on the four pretending to be a family. They are misfits that treat this as a welcome challenge. Think how unfunny and begrudging it would have been to watch if the Millers had hated what they were doing.
Most of the scenes belong to Sudeikis, who is the least loyal to this quasi-family even though the whole scheme is his idea. He looks like a typical pot dealer loafer in the opening scenes, but after $43,000 is ripped off by common thugs, he gets stuck doing the risky mule job. Aniston has at least two stripper scenes, one of them in a grotty strip club and the second one funnier where in a mechanics shop she has to use persuasion on two veteran cartel types. I am estimating that the kids secretly crave surrogate parents. I liked them.
Throwing a monkey wrench into the journey are a straight-laced married couple played by Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn, and their daughter played by Molly Quinn (the object of Kenny’s lust, how sweet). Two months ago I called Offerman a low-rent Zach Galifianakis, but here, he’s very funny as the rigid family man who just might crave misbehavior. Hahn is a woman of God whose morals are ultimately corrupted by… the Millers.
What can I say about where it goes? I found it to be a satisfactory ending, but nowhere fresh. I thought Kenny had the best arc, and Casey molded into an improved and calmed young woman. There is (yuk-warning) a graphic shot of Kenny’s penis and ball sac. I normally would be appalled that the filmmakers held onto the shot as long as they did. But I did, yes, laugh helplessly.
Brisk direction by Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”). He also deserves credit for eliciting his actors to make hilariously skeptical faces at each other.
100 Minutes. Rated R.
COMEDY / CRUDE HUMOR / SATURDAY NIGHT CHUCKLES
Film Cousins: “Knocked Up” (2007); “Pineapple Express” (2008); “The Joneses” (2009); “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” (2011).