‘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

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Going Out

5 things to do in NYC this weekend…

FILM Lebowski Fest Aug. 22-23, 8 p.m. Various locations, Manhattan $20-$30, www.lebowskifest.com The Dude abides — for 48 hours to celebrate the 1998 Coen brothers classic.…

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…