Consistently amusing but never uproariously funny, this comedy plays it relatively safely by gently subverting our expectations of Aniston and Roberts, while making rising-star Poulter the butt of most jokes. There's just enough rude humour to keep fans of adult-oriented comedies happy, even if the movie continually reveals a squidgy-soft underbelly of sentimentality. But it's fun while it lasts.
The chaos begins when happy small-time Denver pot dealer David (Sudeikis) is robbed, leaving him indebted to his supplier Brad (Helms). Then he's offered a way out: travel to Mexico and collect a "smidge" of weed to smuggle back across the border in an RV. To increase his chances of getting through without an inspection, he creates a fake family from his neighbours: desperate stripper Rose (Aniston), lonely geek Kenny (Poulter) and homeless tough-girl Casey (Roberts). And the fact that they struggle to act like a convincing family is the least of their problems as they're chased by two vicious goons (Sisley and Willig) and befriended by a too-friendly couple (Offerman and Hahn) along the road.
Yes, this is one of those road comedies in which something unexpected happens every step of the way. Sudeikis rides out the film relatively unruffled, while Aniston's big scene is a scorchingly over-the-top striptease performed to distract a drug kingpin. Roberts' only subplot is a silly liaison with a moronic skater (Young). These sequences are carefully calculated to be mildly funny but never embarrassing to the big American stars. On the other hand, acclaimed British actor Poulter (see Son of Rambow and Wild Bill) dives in to his humiliating scenarios with gusto, from an awkward romance with another girl (Quinn) to kissing practice with his "mother" and "sister" to a ghastly spider bite. In the process, he walks off with the whole film.
Director Thurber (Dodgeball) keeps the story moving at a snappy pace, giving his actors space to play with their roles (the outtake reel in the closing credits shows how much fun they had). So even if the humour continually pulls back from the brink of actual anarchic hilarity, it at least elicits the occasional chuckle or knowing grimace of sympathy. We never really doubt where the story is heading, since it's clearly one of those tidy scripts that won't leave any threads dangling. So in the end, the warm-hearted sappiness isn't much of a surprise. And the film ultimately becomes an enjoyable enough diversion, but never a true guilty pleasure.
Run time: 110 mins
In Theaters: Wednesday 7th August 2013
Box Office USA: $150.4M
Box Office Worldwide: $270M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Vincent Newman Entertainment, New Line Cinema, Newman/Tooley Films, Slap Happy Productions (II), Heyday Films, BenderSpink
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 47%
Fresh: 69 Rotten: 78
IMDB: 7.1 / 10
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Jason Sudeikis as David Clark, Jennifer Aniston as Rose O'Reilly, Will Poulter as Kenny Rossmore, Emma Roberts as Casey Mathis, Ed Helms as Brad Gurdlinger, Nick Offerman as Donny Fitzgerald, Thomas Lennon as Rick Nathanson, Kathryn Hahn as Edie Fitzgerald, Molly C. Quinn as Melissa Fitzgerald, Tomer Sisley as Pablo Chacon, Matthew Willig as One-Eye, Luis Guzmán as Mexican Cop, Thomas Lennon as Rick Nathanson, Mark L. Young as Scottie P., Ken Marino as Todd - Strip Club Owner, Laura-Leigh as Kymberly
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