It's time to wonder if Jennifer Aniston's early career was a set-up for the dirty-girl punchlines she's delivering now. In movies like Horrible Bosses, Wanderlust and now We're the Millers her wholesomeness and sitcom-clean language has been stripped away along with most of her clothes. Immodesty looks and sounds good on her.
We're the Millers isn't a one-joke movie but the one joke likeliest to pull in audiences is seeing how wild Aniston gets when playing an exotic dancer. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber understands this, choosing to tease viewers with samplings of skin and shimmy before the big reveal, like Spielberg keeping his shark out of sight until the big attack.
Let's say right off the bat that Aniston at 44 is one fit, sexy woman.
We're the Millers casts our favorite Friend as Rose O'Reilly, a stripper who doesn't enjoy her job but needs the money. When her wisecracking, pot-dealing neighbor David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) offers $10,000 to pose as his wife, part of a ruse to smuggle marijuana from Mexico, Rose refuses. Then she meets the misfit teenagers David hired to pose as their children, and maternal instinct kicks in. The ensuing road trip could have been booked through Griswold Travel.
David is a small-time dealer who wouldn't be doing this except he owes a small fortune to a drug kingpin, played smarmily by Ed Helms. There's a hidden agenda to the caper that won't be spoiled but is one reason why the movie runs about 20 minutes longer than necessary, along with the inevitable dawning upon people who can't initially stand each other that they're made for each other.
The fun of watching We're the Millers is guessing how raunchily low it will go, and realizing you've sorely underestimated these writers and actors. Sudeikis is too normal-looking for the glib weirdness springing from his mouth, the funniest of it unprintable. Aniston relishes dropping f-bombs and flipping middle fingers, literally at castmates and figuratively at Doris Day's virtuous mom persona.
The wild card is Will Poulter as Kenny, the hired "son." Kenny might get bullied by geeks, he's so geeky, with beady eyes framed by brows shaped like Spyder bicycle handlebars, and a voice strangled by puberty. Kenny suffering a tarantula bite in a delicate spot, and kissing lessons with his "mom" and "sister" had an audience's laughter drowning out the next few lines. He's a scene-stealer, except for Aniston's hide-saving stripper scene that, of course, nobody can steal.
Steve Persall can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.