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We're the Millers

The creatively low-power premise motoring We’re the Millers might have counted as “high concept” in Hollywood executive suites not so long ago. It didn’t take much. And it has to be conceded that it may be a first. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the possibility of singularity does not necessarily confer merit. You’ve got to execute, babe. And stem to stern, We’re the Millers is wince-making awful.

The people behind it evidently wanted it to be gleefully and boorishly subversive, while retaining a current of sentimentalism. This latter element proves to be more offensive than the mechanical coarseness and by-the-numbers gross-outs that consistently punctuate the movie. (These include a couple of feints in the direction of quasi-incest.)

This embarrassingly crude mess gets going when Dave Clark (Jason Sudeikis), a minor player in Denver’s illicit drug markets, falls into debt to his supplier. (It’s one of the movie’s ass-protecting hedges that virtually the only drug mentioned is grass, increasingly approved by residents of Western-states.) Dave is forced to agree to smuggle pot from Mexico into the States in recompense. He has the brainstorm to recruit a trio of misfits and down-and-outers to pose as his wife and two kids vacationing with him in a giant RV in order to avoid suspicion.

We’re the Millers doesn’t make much of an effort to disguise the ordained sweet conclusion to this ostensibly comic excursion. Its embroideries are cursory, clumsily done, and mechanical. It’s not just that the characters and situations are crudely cartoonish; they’re rendered in a lumbering, leering fashion. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber evidences no particular aptitude for setting up and timing comedy routines. The performers were obviously handicapped by the witlessness of the material, but they don’t, for the most part, rise above it. Sudeikis comes off as a kind of white Eddie Murphy with a touch of Bill Murray. The result is a monotonous, forced quirkiness. Jennifer Aniston, as an unemployed stripper and make-believe wife, gets to show off her well-preserved figure, and little else.

For all its attempt to forge a mashup of the hip and the heartfelt, it’s possible to discern a crass cynicism at work in We’re the Millers.

Watch the trailer for We're the Millers

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