Published Aug 07, 2013Who says there are no leading roles for women over 40 in Hollywood? Age "ain't nothin' but a numba," as long as the actress in question still appears 30. Just look at how hard Jennifer Aniston is working to prove to casting directors everywhere that her shake is still a moneymaker. You know, in lieu of developing the kind of acting range that would get her offered higher calibre roles. But flaunting what she's got while she's got it appears to be a serious part of Aniston's current project-choosing modus operandi.
It's hard to imagine that the serviceable Weeds-meets-Vacation script about a group of outsider drug mules learning the meaning of friendship while disguised as a middle-class American family on a road trip was really the selling point for anyone involved. Add the former Friends star as a stereotypical stripper with a heart of gold, a couple of promising youngsters saddled with cliché-ridden characters and a SNL breakout performer (Jason Sudeikis) with moderately rising marquee stock (after Horrible Bosses), as an affable smartass slacker in over his head, and you've got a recipe for a picture only as good as its performances.
Likely realizing this, Dodgeball director Rawson Marshall Thurber lets Sudeikis lead the cast through improvisation-heavy takes (judging by the outtakes playing over the end credits) in search of a little irreverent whimsy amidst all the formulaic titillation. His unfiltered everyman routine is a suitable fit for the role of David Clark, a small-time pot-dealer forced to pick up a shipment of grass from Mexico by his Bond-villain-on-glue of a boss (Ed Helms), to make up for losing his stash and savings to a bunch of effeminate teen thugs.
To look less conspicuous, David solicits the aid of the three other characters we've just conveniently met, who desperately need cash or something to do: Kenny (Will Poulter), the dorky teen next door looking for a father figure; Casey (Emma Roberts), a homeless girl with an iPhone searching for any sense of familial inclusion; and Rose, his stripper neighbour in need of new employment following unsavoury policy changes at "the office."
The foursome has decent chemistry, with Poulter playing the naïve straight man to the world-weary, wrong-side-of-the-tracks dabbling of his temporary family. Aniston is at her best when playing a character equipped with a healthy reserve of bitch juice and Rose is driven to spray venomous contempt frequently by David's irresponsible flippancy as the fake patriarch of their merry band of misfits.
The softening of her verbal karate chops to his fragile manhood substitutes for character development, but this isn't that kind of comedy anyway — nobody in We're The Millers is meant to be anything more than an archetypal approximation of a human being.
A reliance on pop-culture-referencing zingers provides as much insight into the personality of Sudeikis as it does the character he's playing. So, as long as you don't expect to learn anything about the human condition or feel anything other than uncomfortable mirth over the sight of swollen testicles and an unexpected tickle of the taboo (is faux-incest the new rape joke?), We're The Millers delivers enough to be worth cueing up for rainy day viewing.
Maybe don't watch it with your actual family though. (Warner)