Every year, Toronto begins to take on certain themes by the festival's midpoint, and this year there were some strong, serious dramas involving characters who go it alone in life, and much of the time to their own detriment.
But they aren't really the Millers. They're just four rather lame-ass characters playing the part of a family in this insipid comedy that feels slapped together from the lewd imaginations of hormonal 13 yr-old boys. And not very bright ones at that.
Painfully obvious with its assault of crude sexual references and innuendos that miss more than they hit, "We're the Millers" is a road romp with too much road and no romping, just endless talk of romping. Why this movie cops out from being a real naughty adventure eludes me.
The lowdown: SNL's Jason Sudeikis plays mid-to-late 30-something pot dealer David, a manchild in need of a shave whose speaking style appears to be entirely learned behavior from sitcoms with his endless barrage of sarcasm, cultural references, and putdowns.
In his apartment building lives almost 18 yr-old Kenny (Will Poulter) with those remarkable eyebrows and that baby face that make him look like a cross between the Joker and that kid from the cover of Mad Magazine, and Rose (Jennifer Aniston) a cougar who's much too cute to be stripping at the dive she works at, where she humors a new bubbleheaded dancer with "Boner Garage" tattooed just below her navel, with an arrow pointing south just in case we weren't paying attention in sex-ed that day.
David's got a problem: in a failed attempt at trying to save ungrateful teen Casey (Emma Roberts) from a pack of generic young street thugs straight out of central casting, David has his stash and all his cash looted from the buggers. That puts him in a vice with supplier Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms) since, wouldn't ya know it, he owes the guy some $43,000. Why he holds nearly that amount in his apartment instead of paying most of the debt off in the first place is an obvious question that I guess we're not supposed to ask because this is a movie hoping we've turned our thinking switch to off.
With no other options available to him, David accepts Brad's offer of flying to Mexico to be a drug mule, smuggling back a "smidge" of pot in an RV, thereby wiping out his debt while collecting another $100,000 for a job well done. But how to pull it off? A single man driving an RV back from Mexico? Seems like it would raise more than a few red flags at the border.
Strictly adhering to Roger Ebert's Law of the Economy of Characters that says movie budgets do not allow for unnecessary characters, the ones we've briefly been introduced to naturally team up as Kenny, Casey, Rose and David pose as a super square family named the Millers on a trip to Mexico to visit grandma. They'll pick up the shipment, drive back across the border and who'll be the wiser to this family that seems to be straight out of a 1950's sitcom?
What follows are a series of hijinks as the Millers try to keep it all together while their real selves almost hijack the whole enterprise at several turns. There's the drug pick-up, then a cameo featuring Luis Guzman as a Mexican cop that builds to a total anti-climax, a subplot involving the Mexican cartel going after the Millers, and the introduction of the Fitzgerald family, who are precisely what the Millers are trying to be but keep failing at. Even after the Fitzgeralds have made what appears to be their little cameo in the movie, sophisticated followers of Ebert's Law know they'll return just when they're needed.
I chuckled a few times, like at the barbershop scene where Sudeikis delivers a sharply worded little monologue on the kind of haircut he needs. But if you take all the funny and add it up, there isn't enough here to get you beyond the length of an extended trailer. Scenes drag on with unnecessary behavior meant to show how stupid these people are that they almost blow their cover all the time. Not funny. Much funnier would be to show how they cleverly use the "Miller" cover to get in and out of situations instead of always the same old tired retread scenes of one of them acting crudely out of character.
Jennifer Aniston sure is sexy in a couple scenes here, and her comic timing is natural and unforced. But much of the time it's as though she's sitting in that RV wondering what the hell she was thinking signing onto this half-hearted attempt at humor. She outshines Sudeikis, who would be funnier in this movie if he wasn't so desperately trying to be so damned funny all the time. And when he does stop on a dime to kvetch or fill the time here, pop references to things like Marky Mark seem outdated and unoriginal. Along with Roberts and Poulter, this is a cast of capable actors left stranded by yet another Hollywood effort this summer that spends money on talent and locations, but scrimps and saves when it comes to the screenplay.
"We're the Millers" is a totally derivative, inconsequential comedy that pulls its punches and comes up stale and lazy.