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New film ‘We’re the Millers’ is the same old story

By Gary Clift

There are times when the new movie comedy “We’re the Millers” seems like a film forty or fifty years old, but with conversational cursing inserted as joke lines. And remember, we’ve already been through a stretch of Hollywood history when movies would include little kids or old people just so it could have them curse for the sake of laughs. So there’s nothing new to look at here. Move along.

The movie has a relatively unknown director, Rawson Marshall Thurber, who made “Dodgeball” a few years ago. “We’re the Millers” stars are Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, neither of whom has ever been in an above average movie, and Emma Roberts, whose career has been stalled at the “she’s Julia’s niece” level for several years. So why would anyone be attracted to this film?

Well, it has been advertised. Just about every joke in the movie is in the preview. Oddly likable Sudeikis, a dead-pan specialist, livens up one late scene by casting his eyes at the camera, as if daring us not to see what was funny about what just happened. But it wasn’t funny. Nothing here is very funny.

The jokes are all along the lines of having Will Poulter’s character bit on a testicle by a tarantula. The organ swells up, and we are shown it. Isn’t that funny.

Then, figure this, Aniston is playing a stripper, and we are shown her routine, but she exposes less skin than she would have if she had been wearing a bikini. So the movie manages to be in one sense risque without ever being sexy.

And viewers won’t be attracted or won over by the story, which is familiar and oddly out-dated. In it, Sudeikis plays David, a small-time seller of marijuana (in, ironically, Colorado, where recent law has made dope pretty much legal). He lives in an apartment house as do Rose (Aniston) and the innocent Kenny (Poulter).

David is vaguely good-hearted. He rushes—foolishly—to Kenny’s assistance when the boy tries to stop thugs from stealing from a local street urchin named Casey (Roberts). The thugs take all David’s money and his merchandise.

His supplier (played way, way over the top by Ed Helms of “The Hangover”) offers to wipe the record clean and to give David $100,000 for picking up some pot and bringing it back from Mexico. David isn’t enthusiastic, but he sees a family of tourists in an r.v., sees how differently they are treated than is everyone else (?!), and decides to recruit a “family” to travel with him on his El Supremo run.

He offers Rose, Kenny, and Casey money to go on the trip—later they are, astonishingly, surprised and furious that they aren’t getting as much money as he is. And then he rents a Winnebago or something similar. And off they drive.

They have no problems picking up the dope, simply announcing the name “Pablo Chacone” at the adobe fort. But then the real Pablo Chacone shows up. He is the boss there. Why didn’t the armed minions recognize that David wasn’t him? Oh well. The “family” escapes into the U.S., supposedly because a border guard has been bribed, though we never see this corrupt official.

Chacone is going to catch up with “the Millers,” but not before they’ve had a little social interaction with another family of big vehicle tourists. The father in this family is a temporarily suspended D.E.A. Agent. His wife is bi-curious. His daughter (Molly Quinn from the Castle TV Series) is shocked when she sees Kenny getting kissing lessons from his “sister” and his “mother.”

Eventually, just as any moviegoer would predict, David gets a chance to escape from Chacone, his family, and the other family. But by then he has, unbelievably, begun to think of his little team in sentimental terms. So how can he desert them?

And how could anybody in the theater possibly care? “We’re the Millers’” story has been told many times in film, and almost always more coherently. This is too bad, because Sudeikis and Roberts probably deserve to appear in a well-scripted film. But, maybe they’ll get a better one next time they are cast in a movie telling this same tired story.

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