Thankfully, we are spared the dreary backstories in this saga of a small-time drug dealer who recruits a stripper, a homeless girl, and a neglected teenage neighbor to provide cover for crossing the border by posing as his family. But that is one of the few small mercies as we are spared very little else in a relentless onslaught of bad language and gross-out humor. Everyone on screen is slumming a little in this silly comedy. Jason Sudeikis is David, who started dealing pot in college and just stayed with it while his contemporaries got straight jobs, got pudgy, and moved out to the suburbs with their families, envying his carefree lifestyle. Jennifer Aniston, who is clearly working through something after a series of roles that show more of her body than her comedy skills, plays Rose, a stripper who lives in David’s building. The homeless girl, Casey, is Emma Roberts, and “Son of Rambow’s” Will Poulter plays Kenny, the lonely, inexperienced teenager.
When David is robbed and can’t pay his supplier (a very jolly Ed Helms) who has so much money he bought a live Orca for his office. So, he has to take on a gig smuggling “a smidge” of marijuana into the US from Mexico because “my regular courier is out on account of he got gunned down.” He looks up drug smuggling on Wikipedia. When he sees some clueless tourists get sympathetic treatment from a cop, he decides that the only way to get through customs without being checked is to appear to be a middle class family taking a vacation in an RV. So he hires Rose and Casey and invites Kenny to come along. They all dress up like an ad for back-to-school clothes from the mall, figuring that the border guards will wave them through.
Then come the problems. The contraband is more than a smidge. The people they took it from are mean men with guns who want it back. Behaving like a normal family is not something that comes easily to any of them. Those border guards have dogs. And there is a relentlessly cheery couple (Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn) with a pretty daughter keep wanting to hang out (and more).
Sudeikis is a gifted comedian with a likeable screen presence, even when playing a guy whose hostility is only thinly disguised by his slacker demeanor. He’s the kind of guy whose barbed witticisms are mostly for his own enjoyment because he never sees anyone on his wavelength. His response to an idiot who ends every remark with “Know what I’m saying?” is “I can hear and I speak English, so yes, I do.” He’s even able to muster some vulnerability when he shows us that he has always liked Rose more than he was able to show her. Poulter and Roberts are far better than the material they are given, and Aniston is reliable as always.
The movie begins with a series of YouTube classics like the double rainbow guy, as David aimlessly clicks through them while he is on the phone with his mother. This movie merits about that same level of engagement, a time-waster and a talent-waster.
Parents should know that this film is a very graphic and raunchy comedy about drug dealing and smuggling with extended jokes about stripping, lap dances, incest, group sex, and wife-swapping, constant very strong and explicit language, mostly comic peril and violence including guns, chases, car crashes and mayhem, homophobic humor, and close-up shots of severely swollen genitalia. There are some funny moments and clever quips, but it evaporates before the final frame has faded.
Family discussion: What did Rose learn from David’s description of the way they met? What did “The Millers” like and not like about traditional family life?
If you like this, try: “Horrible Bosses,” also starring Sudeikis and Aniston, and “Pineapple Express”