“If you’re loud and annoying,” Mel Brooks informed Madeline Kahn in High Anxiety, “psychologically, people don’t notice you.” We’re The Millers attempts to demonstrate that principle at feature length, using as a case study the tale of a debt-ridden Denver pot dealer (Jason Sudeikis) who’s tasked with smuggling a massive stash from Mexico for a college friend (Ed Helms) who is now a killer-whale-owning importer/kingpin. Seeking decoys, Sudeikis recruits a fake family that includes a stripper (Jennifer Aniston), a runaway (Emma Roberts), and a kid from his apartment building (Will Poulter), counting on the illusion of harmlessness to deter the border guards from the giant cache of ganja in their RV. Weed plus raunch plus road trip plus stereotypes equals surefire laughs, right? Alas, the sentimentality that marred Rawson Marshall Thurber’s otherwise freewheeling Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story is omnipresent here. Come for the tarantula-bitten testicles or Luis Guzmán soliciting sexual favors as a corrupt police officer (in a truly cringe-inducing bit); stay for the “unexpected” bonding, lessons in how to talk to a girl, and a moral that might as well have been sponsored by Partnership For A Drug-Free America.
Just don’t leave before the end credits, which feature the cast playing a prank on Aniston that’s at least as funny as anything in the film. On the basis of the outtakes, the four screenwriters (who’ve variously worked on Married…With Children, Wedding Crashers, and Hot Tub Time Machine) have left it to the actors to devise many of the jokes. In lieu of these punchlines, the screenplay offers a surfeit of plot, slowing down would-be screwball pacing with a lot of excess… stuff. Too many story strands need to pay off (is it absolutely essential that Roberts fall for a spelling-challenged motorcycle rat?). Too many contrivances become necessary to steer the movie back on course (because naturally the head of a cartel, preparing to murder four people, would be dumb enough to allow Aniston a few minutes to distract him with a striptease). Oh, there’s also a DEA agent (Nick Offerman) and his wife (the normally more reliable Kathryn Hahn) keeping pace with the main foursome, facilitating lame swingers gags and preserving the threat of discovery long after any real fake family would be in the clear. Loud and annoying? Occasionally. Funny? Sometimes. Likely to be noticed by filmgoers six months from now? Not really.