**/**** Image A Sound A Extras D
starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Ed Helms
screenplay by Bob Fisher & Steve Faber and Sean Anders & John Morris
directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
by Walter Chaw Rawson Marshall Thurber's return to the territory of the screwball gross-out comedy that put him on the map, the better-than-it-should-be Dodgeball, is the better-than-it-should-be (but not as good as Dodgeball) We're The Millers, an essentially plotless road-trip intrigue that nonetheless glances off 2013's concern with the decline of the middle class while providing a couple of chuckles along the way. It's the lowbrow version of Albert Brooks's Lost in America if looked at through a particularly sympathetic lens--a hint of a conversation about class, a whiff of something about how hard it is to make a living on streets getting meaner by the day. Ultimately, it's probably just lucky that the cast assembled has an impressive improvisational pedigree (and that the director is open to making adjustments midstream), lending a stale comedy of mistaken identity a degree of perhaps-undeserved life. It probably doesn't hurt that We're the Millers never, at any point, tries to be something it's not: rescued by a total lack of ambition.
In that it shares a trait with petty drug-dealer David (Jason Sudeikis), who spends his days being an affable asshole to everyone, a surrogate father of sorts to putz Kenny (Will Poulter), and hate-flirting with the stripper, Rose (Jennifer Aniston), who lives in his building. Alas, when he's robbed of his stash, his horrible boss Brad (Ed Helms) sends him to Mexico to perform as a mule for a huge shipment of pot. What better way for David to disguise himself than to recruit his motley crew to pretend to be a vacationing family, Winnebago and all? That's it. There's an evil Mexican cartel kingpin (Tomer Sisley), a corrupt Mexican cop (Luis Guzman), another vacationing family (Nick Offerman, Molly Quinn, Kathryn Hahn) the patriarch of which happens to be a DEA agent, and a scene where Jen gets to show off her ridiculously-toned tabloid bod in a sequence designed to objectify her in tireless PG-13 detail.
Points for Sudeikis's and Hahn's absolute comfort with this kind of thing, and young Poulter will be a star sooner or later. (I'm guessing sooner.) On the other side of it, Emma Roberts has already assumed the smug insufferability of Auntie Julia, and Aniston, as is often the case, is so comfortable in a low-aspiring situation comedy that she's essentially invisible. There's probably a role for her big-sister vibe and that role was as the older woman in The Good Girl. Best to leave stuff like race and sexism alone (not being about anything, We're the Millers is also not purposeful enough to offend overly); the best outcome of We're the Millers is that it's likely rekindled the career of a promising director who hamstrung himself by attempting an adaptation of a Michael Chabon book. At the end of the day, it says something that the funniest moment of the film is a sight gag involving a testicle.
THE BLU-RAY DISC
Warner brings We're the Millers home in an Extended Cut exclusive to Blu-ray. It sports laser-sharp 1080p video that paints the exteriors in brilliant colours and the centrepiece striptease in gratifying detail. This is a well-funded, digitally-shot studio feature made well into the new millennium and looks every inch that, the 2.40:1 transfer boasting minimal noise, wide dynamic range, warm skin tones, and a suitably filmic texture. The attendant 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is likewise status quo, for the time and for the genre. The 110-minute theatrical version shares Blu-ray real estate with the 119-minute unrated edition via seamless branching, with the disc defaulting to the latter. Because I'm not that dedicated, I didn't compare the two to divine those extra nine minutes (a post-script tacked onto the longer cut's closing credits indicates that at least one of the additions is a campfire sing-along), but I will say that "unrated" in this case is not synonymous with "dirtier." In other words, just Google "Jennifer Aniston Nude" for more satisfying results.
A series of HiDef featurettes launches with "Stories from the Road" (17 mins.), a collection of textbook EPK shorts. Junket-interview soundbites and film clips aplenty and nothing much to speak of. A shorter infomercial, "Livin' It Up with Brad" (4 mins.), finds former "Daily Show" regular Helms talking all about the inspirations for oft-described douchebag Brad. Worthless? At least worthless. "When Paranoia Sets In" (3 mins.) is this sketch thing where the cast pretends they really were smuggling a bunch of pot around the United States. It's as hard to suffer as it sounds. "Deleted Scenes" (16 mins.) is proof that the extended cut could have been 135 minutes long, though it consists mainly of alternate takes of heavily-improvised scenes. You'll be glad to know that the bulk of its material comes from the part where the Millers decide who's gonna blow an Officer Poncherello-dressed Luis Guzman. "Millers Unleashed: Outtakes Overload" (8 mins.) and "Gags and more Outtakes" (3 mins.) features the cast ad-libbing like crazy with uneven results. The best outtake is already in the extended cut's gag-reel stinger, as Aniston's co-stars make stark reference to her fabled syndication legend. (It bears mentioning that several of the outtakes in these featurettes are in fact in said gag reel.) That amazing Man of Steel trailer plus one for Larry David's Clear History cue up on startup; DVD and instructions for downloading Digital copies of We're the Millers are included in the keepcase.
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