There certainly are worse companions for a cinematic road trip than "We're the Millers."
The cast is fun, the characters bicker amusingly and the four credited screenwriters give them a steady stream of one-liners and crazy situations.
But while it avoids the laughless lulls of many would-be comedies, it also doesn't deliver those big set pieces, those over-the-top gags that drive word-of-mouth and take a comedy from middling summer performer to "There's Something About Mary"- or "Hangover"-level box-office returns.
It's amiable. It's pleasant. I wasn't bored. That might not sound like a ringing endorsement, but it was a nice break from what's felt like an endless assault of superheroes and explosions this summer.
"Millers" wants to pretend it's edgier than it is. Sudeikis plays David Clark, a small-time pot dealer in Denver who ends up in debt to his supplier (Ed Helms) after some thugs steal his stash and his cash. To clear his debt - and earn an extra hundred grand - the supplier sends David to Mexico to pick up a "smidge" of high-grade marijuana and transport it over the border.
So as not to call attention to himself, David decides to assemble an All-American family that won't draw a second look from the border patrol guards. His crew includes his stripper neighbor Rose (Jennifer Aniston) as his wife and a runaway (Emma Roberts) and a nerdy latchkey teen (Will Poulter) who lives in his building to play their two children.
WHAT: "We're the Millers"
STARS: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Will Poulter, Emma Roberts, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Ed Helms and Tomer Sisley.
STORYLINE: A small-time drug dealer assembles a motley crew to pose as his all-American family to help him smuggle a shipment of marijuana from Mexico to Colorado.
DIRECTOR: Rawson Marshall Thurber
RATING: R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity.
Not surprisingly, everything doesn't go according to plan, starting with the fact that a "smidge" is about two tons of pot. The RV breaks down, they're chased by a Mexican drug lord, and they encounter another family of RV travelers that creates another set of complications.
David, essentially living in his mid-30s the same way he did when he was in college, makes plenty of jokes about the prison of marriage and family, but it's not venturing into spoiler territory to say that this oddball crew grows to depended upon and care for each other. The ultimate message is the importance of family, however it may be composed.
Sudeikis, who shares top billing with Aniston, doesn't necessarily play the straight man here, but he's best reacting to the lunacy around him, whether its dealing with sexual advances from an unexpected source or bantering with an annoying carny kid with "No Ragrets" tattooed on his chest. Aniston and Sudeikis play well off one another, although her most memorable scene isn't a joke but a strip tease to distract that drug lord.
Much of the humor comes from the supporting cast. Poulter, who looks like he could have been cast by Steven Spielberg if he'd decided to make a live action "Tintin" movie, is responsible for some of the biggest laughs along with Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn as fellow travelers.
Rawson Marshall Thurber, who directed the surprise hit "Dodgeball" nearly a decade ago, keeps the comedy rooted in the characters. Although when it swings for the fences with a big gag, such as an unfortunate spider bite, the result is closer to a double than a home run.
And, speaking of sports, jilted Cleveland Cavs' fans will appreciate one joke. At one point a bundle of pot hidden in a blanket is mistaken for a swaddled infant. When asked what the baby's name is, David blurts out, "LeBron." He says he wasn't fond of the name at first, "But the missus has a soft spot for prima donnas who will never be as great as Jordan."