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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

WE'RE THE MILLERS (2013)

Crude, rude & lewd . . . pretty funny, too. This hit comedy about a make-believe nuclear family, hand-picked by a desperate local drug dealer as a prop to help him drive a jumbo-sized SUV loaded with marijuana across the Mexican border and back to Denver is purposely coarse & obvious, loaded with plot twists you see coming and gags too musty to raise a laugh-track response on the CW. But its fouled-mouthed manner is a con, toothless & harmless, barely disguising an old-fashioned fractured family comedy where kids & parents get tested in a series of funny crises that pull them together. And it’s that dichotomy of tone that make the wheezy script generate big laughs as a familiar structure and essential character decency spark against R-Rated scatological jokes, breezy sexual tension and a drug culture that’s changing so fast the film’s premise is already out of date. On its own, the juxtaposition is a pretty thin thread to hang 100 minutes on, but the trick of the thing is that we wind up caring about how the fake family is bonding, the four leads are just so damn likable. Jason Sedeikis (Dad) isn’t exactly loaded with acting chops, but there’s a kick just watching him take the old Fred MacMurray spot. As fake Mom, Jennifer Aniston has aged past her old bullet-proof look, and is all the better for it. And then there’s Will Poulter as the ‘son.’ Cast as a new Michael Cera, he breaks past the mold, looking so much like that freckle-faced kid Norman Rockwell liked to paint, you grin like an idiot whenever he’s on the screen. (See below - heck, even the ass is the same.) Budding megger Rawson Marshall Thurber finds a nice, unhurried pace for his cast, but he’s hardly a natural filming physical comedy. Setting up shots for chain-reaction shtick or roadhouse punches leave him flummoxed, begging for laughs instead of selling the gag. Yet it hardly matters.


SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Rumor puts a sequel in the pipeline. And while the writing team of Steve Faber & Bob Fisher did WEDDING CRASHERS/’05, this is more in the HANGOVER vein. And we all know how those sequels turned out. Guys, quit while you’re ahead.

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