Film-making is sometimes modern alchemy, you place all the correct ingredients in the melting pot and you still turn out Iron. Alternatively, you chuck in random elements and out pops a solid gold bar.
This comedy is in the latter category, if you see a genuinely funnier film this year, you will be lucky indeed.
David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) is a low level drug dealer who manages to get his bosses stash and pile of cash stolen. Instead of ending up with no limbs in an oil barrel, he is given a second chance. He can act as a drug mule to bring a smidge of weed across the border from Mexico to the USA. Just how hard could that be?
Of course DEA agents are going to look closely at a single man travelling South to North of the border and therefore, our anti-hero hatches a plan. Who would suspect a clean cut family on a family vacation aboard their motor-home? Of course this being the States, the RV is the size of a town house, but we digress.
Being a bit short in the family department, Clark takes the obvious choice of creating one. Like choosing spare parts at a scrapyard he alights upon Rose (Jennifer Aniston), if you are going to pick then at least aim high. Bearing in mind her current gainful employment as a stripper, her co-worker has a “Boner garage” tattoo on her stomach complete with a helpful arrow, indicates any conversation will be a step up.
To round off the family children will be required, “Casey” (Emma Roberts) a sulky teen Clark saves from being robbed and naive but well meaning dorky hanger on, “Kenny” (Will Pouter).
The ready-made family now have to start acting like one and work as a cohesive unit, good luck with that. What follows are scrapes and hijinks all linked together well into a crazy road trip. The jokes and situations are clever, funny and unusually just the right side of crass. Raunchy yes, but the film is largely good natured, unlike many so called comedies that substitute crudeness for funny
There will be many favourites scenes, involving tents, babies, kissing and Jennifer Aniston putting her previous employment training to good use, something we have not have seen before. Sudeikis briefly breaking the fourth wall to wink at the audience in a knowing way, one can see why.
Of course Aniston does not need to prove her comedic chops but Sudeikis uses his previous Saturday Night Live (SNL) skills to match her, irony for irony. However the real stand out is Poulter, showing real talent and also some seemingly unlikely rap skills.
We get to meet some cartoonish bad guys, corrupt cops and fellow RV travellers looking for some company, “Don” (Offerman) and “Edie” (Hahn) both actors luckily game for a laugh.
So far so good, a comedy that actually is on occasion laugh out loud funny but the film also provides a soft centred heart when you you least expect it. As an audience, you really feel you have been on a journey of discovery with the family, providing the later scenes with some emotional heft.
We may not have seen the last of the Millers, with a box office of $270m on a $37 million budget, there will be more trips planned in the future. Whether they can capture lightning in the bottle again, remains to be seen.
The tag line hilarious is overused but certainly this comedy brushes with that adjective on occasion, leaving the audience with a great conclusion, in a film that can be enjoyed on a repeat viewing.
Warning, watching on a plane might make your fellow passengers look at you strange as you laugh your way through the film, you have been warned.
A highly recommended comedy.