“We’re the Millers” Funnier than Expected

When a comedy is released late in the summer season, like “We’re the Millers,” it’s usually a troublesome sign. The studio is just dumping the film into theaters, hoping it might make a profit. Despite all warning signs to the contrary, however, “We’re the Millers” is a surprisingly funny comedy.Jason Sudeikis plays a pot dealer who, after being mugged and losing the stash he was selling, is forced by his boss (Ed Helms) to go down to Mexico and pick up a “smidge” of marijuana in a huge RV. To avoid potential detection at the border, he enlists his stripper neighbor (Jennifer Aniston), a lonely kid (Will Poulter) and a runaway (Emma Roberts) to pose as his family for the smuggling of the marijuana. Along the way, each of them learns a valuable life lesson that changes them forever and teaches the group the value of a family, even if it is a made up, ragtag family like the Millers.

Sudeikis, making his first onscreen appearance since officially leaving “Saturday Night Live,” holds his own in his first leading role. With his charm and sarcasm, he really comes across as a modern day Chevy Chase, only more likable. Aniston is only a step removed from her “Horrible Bosses” role, in which she co-starred with Sudeikis as a sex-starved dentist.

Even though the plot of “We’re the Millers” hits all of the necessary cues for a road movie, the humor pulls it out of the depths, making it come off as a bit of a “Vacation” meets “Cheech & Chong,” only without the drug use. One would think in a movie where the main characters are transporting a RV full of weed across the border, some smoking of the product would ensue. There is a very funny bit where a block of the sticky icky doubles as a baby, which a fellow RV family, played by Kathryn Hahn and Nick Offerman, keeps wanting to oh and ah over, and Poulter’s awkwardness with the opposite sex has every bit of comedy wringed out of it as possible.

That’s not to say “Millers” is a good movie. It’s just so-so. But director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Dodgeball”) packs in some laugh-out-loud moments in between the obvious and obligatory moments of character development that come across as forced and phony, like some kind of Screenwriting 101 example. Just like the made-up family its about, “We’re the Millers” is a hollow comedy that manages to fill some of its void with funny moments.