It’s been a profitable year in Hollywood for adolescent comedies. Films such as The Heat, Grown Ups 2 and The Hangover Part III have all broken the US$100 million (Dh367m) barrier. Joining that club is We’re the Millers, which has its fair share of risqué moments. It is, after all, a story about a drug dealer and a stripper who band together to smuggle a shipment of marijuana across the US-Mexican border.
Then again, when you have Jason Sudeikis playing the narcotics shifter and Jennifer Aniston as the exotic dancer, there’s always a way of making these characters likeable. Sudeikis plays David Clark, a small-time pot dealer who has no family and no responsibilities. When his apartment is robbed, leaving him in debt to his supplier (Ed Helms, playing the most upbeat kingpin you’ve ever seen), he has one option: become an international drug smuggler.
While awaiting a consignment, David hits on the idea of gathering together a surrogate family and travelling to Mexico in a motorhome – and so, after some bribery, along comes Aniston and their “kids”: the homeless girl Casey (Emma Roberts) and the enthusiastic and innocent Kenny (Will Poulter). Arriving at the drug lord’s home, they leave with a metric tonne of weed – initially shaking off a local cop before heading to the border and a whole heap of trouble.
Written by a quartet including Bob Fisher and Steve Faber, who penned Wedding Crashers, the film is directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who delivered previous comedy gold in the shape of Dodgeball. Like both of those movies, underneath its crude exterior We’re the Millers has a warm centre – typified by the scene where Roberts and Aniston teach the inexperienced Poulter how to kiss. Other sequences – Aniston stripping to distract the baddies; Poulter bitten by a tarantula in the groin – are designed to make you snigger like a schoolkid.
With its heart in the right place, We’re the Millers gets away with these moments by steering us towards a tale of good old-fashioned family values. It’s not particularly sophisticated and at times, rather like these characters, you feel the filmmakers are faking it. But Thurber keeps things purring along just enough to stop you from asking questions. Still, it says something that one of the funniest moments is an outtake seen in the end credits, when the cast prank Aniston with a rendition of a rather familiar theme tune.