We’re the Millers (2013)

(Video on Demand, December 2013) There’s little in We’re the Millers to suggest that it’s more than a middle-of-the-road Hollywood family comedy, but sociologists and policy wonks may be fascinated to note that public acceptance of soft drugs is now high enough that a mainstream Hollywood comedy can feature protagonists smuggling tons of marijuana into the United States without raising much of an eyebrow.  It helps a lot that the film is both broad and amiable enough to soften the blow: Our hero-dealer (Jason Sudeikis, making a career out of playing lovable pushers and likable perverts) is nowhere as bad as the other dealers in the story, and at its core this is a film about misfits building a family together, which pretty much fits Middle-America’s core values.  Not that this is a PG-rated film by any stretch of the imagination: it earns its R rating through copious drug references, sexual content, comic violence and pervasive profanity.  However, We’re the Miller seems almost innocuous compared to some of its gross-out R-rated comic brethrens of a decade ago: it’s never mean-spirited, keeps its wilder references implied rather than demonstrated (for instance, while the entire plot is drug-based, you never see anyone doing drugs) and eventually builds toward the kind of conclusion that everyone can cheer for.  The jokes are numerous enough that some will stick even when others won’t, earning enough chuckles to make the film a success for nearly everyone.  While We’re the Millers may not be as hilarious as it could have been, and suffers from Jennifer Aniston’s bland screen persona (she earns a laugh when revealed as a stripper, but it’s a laugh at her expense –many other actresses could have done quite a bit better in this role), it’s good enough to keep audiences satisfied, and that’s in keeping with the film’s place as a big Hollywood comedy.

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