Though funny in sporadic fashion, We're the Millers is undermined by its mostly sour characters, a cast that is depressingly reshuffled from previous comedies of this ilk, and the discomfiting gratuitousness of Jennifer Aniston’s frequent semi nudity.
Jason Sudeikis (SNL, Hall Pass) confirms his skill at playing a bland, fast-talking wise ass, while Aniston gets to mug disapprovingly at his antics and show the world, in case we missed it, she still has a tight bod (her character is a stripper). As the movie zips from one set-piece to the next, you can imagine the screenwriters ticking off a series of boxes to maximize laughter: jokes about genitalia — check; egregiously stupid characters — check; the portrayal of anyone with a Midwestern accent as a simpleton — checked at least three times.
A drug smuggling plot is secondary to the frequently volatile interactions among the main characters as they take an enormous RV across the Mexico border. In Aniston’s last film, Wanderlust, she had to survive a couple of weeks in a hippie commune. This, too, is a kind of fish-out-of-water tale, where the "out-of" is having to act the part of a loving family. (Also common to both films — to their detriment — are insufferable cameos by members of the ’90s comedy troupe, The State.) The charade leads to some predictably sentimental moments that drag the film down into a focus-group-tested kind of mawkishness instead of letting it barrel ahead as the rude and crude comedy it should be. Such moments reveal the cynical core of We’re the Millers, which wants to manipulate us into caring about people that, with the exception of one main character, are in dire need of attitude adjustments.
Disconcerting is the prudishness the movie depends on for some of its laughs, even as it titillates and asks us to laugh at a virgin. (The recently released and equally mediocre To-Do List does the same.) Aniston’s soccer-mom hotness is played up, particularly during one embarrassing scene designed to appeal to a horny young male’s sexual fantasy. (Sudeikis helps by reflecting the absurdity of the scenario. But it nevertheless portends the "hot cougar" roles for which casting agents will target Aniston.)