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updated: 8/6/2013 3:53 PM

'Millers' makes for light, infectious fun

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  • Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis (background right) and Will Poulter play losers who come together as a family in the ridiculous comedy "We're the Millers."

    Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis (background right) and Will Poulter play losers who come together as a family in the ridiculous comedy "We're the Millers."


Moments into Jennifer Aniston performing a "Flashdance"-inspired strip tease, Jason Sudeikis breaks the fourth wall by looking straight into the camera, and his face flashes us a look that says, "Can you believe this?"

Aniston, the former Rachel from "Friends," playing a veteran stripper?

No, we can't believe this. She doesn't even strip down to anything more daring than what you see in a Victoria's Secret catalog. Sudeikis' smirk tells us, that's the joke.

If any dumb summer comedy ever benefited from low expectations, it would be Rawson Marshall Thurber's "We're the Millers."

By all rights and wrongs, this Farrelly Brothers-inspired gross-out tale shouldn't work. It packs more comic clichés into 100 minutes than six regular comedy films combined. It bluntly deals out stereotypes stuck in preposterous situations.

Yet, the cast of "We're the Millers" is having so much fun, it's infectious.

Under all the contrived crudeness, the actors infuse their crass, loser characters with enough humanity to earn our sympathy. In the end, "We're the Millers" is, ridiculously enough, a testament to the power of family to find the lost and to fill the holes in damaged souls.

Sudeikis plays David, still the pot-dealing loser he's been since college. His attempt to do a good deed backfires and he's robbed of his money and stash, pot that belongs to his self-centered boss and supposedly old friend Brad (Ed Helms on comic overdrive).

Brad says he'll forgive the loss if David will smuggle a "smidge" of drugs across the Mexican border.

Recognizing that he has no chance of success looking like a long-haired pot dealer, David creates a front, the Millers, a ready-made all-American family going to Mexico in an RV.

He recruits Rose (Aniston), the funds-strapped stripper in his apartment building, to be his wife. As expected, Rose can't stand David.

He hires a snarky homeless street goth named Casey (Emma Roberts) to be his daughter. His family becomes complete when a sad teen apartment neighbor, Kenny (Will Poulter), agrees to act as his son.

Now groomed and shaven (and resembling an insurance salesman played by Gary Cole), David loads up his RV and hits the road on what turns out to be a death-defying journey into self-discovery.

The kids squabble, the parents lay down the rules, and it becomes quickly apparent this ragtag group of strangers begins to take family roles comically seriously.

Once the "Millers" arrive at the heavily armed compound of Brad's Mexican drug lord connection (Tomer Sisley), things appear to be going well.

Too well.

For one thing, the "smidge" of pot turns out to be several tons.

"We're the Millers" serves up a quick and light smorgasbord of double-crosses, close calls, romantic subplots (Casey's attraction to Mark L. Young's verbally challenged amusement park employee is more than a hoot), disgusting spider bites on Kenny's private parts and obligatory action sequences.

Nick Offerman and Westchester native Kathryn Hahn prop up this movie as the Fitzgeralds, a camping couple who befriend the Millers. He's a retired DEA agent, and she's up for anything.

"We're the Millers" may lack the qualities of a great comedy, but if you keep in mind the director's earlier Vince Vaughn vehicle, "Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," you'll understand why Sudeikis' movie mercifully turned out far better and funnier than expectations allowed.

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