‘We’re the Millers’ is a soothingly retro gross-out weed comedy

Jason Sudeikis gets a manly ear tickle from Nick Offerman in "We're the Millers." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Jason Sudeikis gets a manly ear tickle from Nick Offerman in “We’re the Millers.”
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

‘We’re the Millers’
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Stars: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston
Grade: R
3 (out of 5) Globes

Marijuana slows down the reflexes, which is why it’s rarely ideal for a genre as visceral as comedy. Most of the superior pot films — “The Big Lebowski,” “Smiley Face” — tend to be not about weed, but its effects on characters trying to navigate heavy situations in a state of foggy inebriation. “We’re the Millers” is likely the highest profile “weed comedy” ever made — a major summer release with (slightly) bankable stars and the now requisite supporting roster of ad-libbing ringers. But it’s the smart kind. No one even gets high in the film, although the setup is basically the same as Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke.”

Jason Sudeikis plays David, an aging, low-rent drug dealer forced to smuggle rather a significant amount of herb across the border. He decides to play it safe: To better throw the man off his scent, he’ll get a bland haircut, adopt a less miserable mien and round up some local low-lifes — including a surly stripper (Jennifer Aniston) and a street kid (Emma Roberts) — and pose as a Winnebago-wielding suburban family from somewhere Midwest. Getting the haul out of Mexico proves easy, but they run afoul of both an angry cartel and, perhaps more burdensome, an actual Winnebago-wielding suburban family, populated by Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn. 

The script for “We’re the Millers” has been in development hell since the mid-Aughts, which is probably why it actually has a shape, as well as a parade of gross-out gags. Still, scenes where these pros are just riffing — especially Hahn, who as in “Step Brothers” throws herself into her oversized character with wild abandon — are preferable to set pieces where, say, a poisonous spider bite enlarges the testicles of the nice guy virgin “son” (“Son of Rambow”’s ace Will Poulter). But even these sequences have a pleasing shape, thanks to the performers and director Rawson Marshall Thurber, who, as in “Dodgeball,” doesn’t know how to make a comedy pretty but does know how to pace jokes, gags and sequences. (A game of Pictionary gone awry smartly withholds one major element for a decent punchline.)

This is a retro Farrelly Brothers clone, right down to the eventual appearance of “heart.” (Spoiler: Our bickering heroes learn to become a makeshift family.) But now that not even the Farrelly Brothers are making Farrelly Brothers movies anymore, one that gets the job done, and even possesses a winningly pissy turn from the talented but often wasted Sudeikis, is worthy of a glove clap.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.