By G. Michael Dobbs
A truly naughty and funny comedy and an epic fail are featured in this week’s film review column.
We’re the Millers
I love all sorts of comedy. I’m equally a fan of silent Buster Keaton films as well as “Animal House.” Perhaps one of the types of comedies that seem to be attempted often, but ultimately fails, is the bawdy film. Although many movies sell themselves as risqué and iconoclastic, most of them are actually pretty conventional.
I was happy to see the summer hit “We’re the Millers” have the backbone to set itself up as raunchy comedy and to continue that theme all the way through. The result is not a film I would have watched with my parents, but one that gave me some hearty belly laughs.
Jason Sudeikis plays drug dealer David Clark, a guy who is way too old for the lifestyle he still has. When he is robbed of his inventory and the money he owes to his supplier, he is given a deal he cannot refuse: drive to Mexico, pick up a “smidge” of marijuana and bring it back. His other choice is death.
Clark comes to realize the best way to get the drugs past police would be to pose as a tourist driving an RV with his family. Only he doesn’t have a family until he hires one. His neighbor, Kenny, an earnest but clueless 18-year-old, a teen runaway and a stripper, whose boyfriend has left her destitute, all agree to help him for a cut of his pay.
To say there are complications along the way to Mexico and back is an understatement. An on-the-road friendship with a Drug Enforcement Administration agent and his family is especially funny.
The entire cast does well and Jennifer Aniston is a standout as the stripper. She seems to relish the role that allows her to do something more than the usual romantic comedy stuff that has largely characterized her career.
The film really earns its R rating and is not family friendly. If you’re looking for adult fun though, go on a road trip with this family.
Now this is a mess. For hardcore film fans, it may be a compelling, intriguing mess, but for people whom simply watch movies to be entertained, my advice is pick something else – please.
I find this film compelling because of the team behind its creation: director, Paul Schrader – the man responsible for the screenplays of “Raging Bull,” “The Last Temptation of Christ” and many more and the director of “American Gigolo” – and writer Bret Easton Ellis, perhaps best known for the controversial book “American Psycho.”
Apparently the two men along with a producer had a studio film fall apart after five years of work and made this film as a quick project for $250,000 out of their own pockets.
The film tells a sad and seedy Los Angeles story about a love triangle of sorts between rich jerk Christian (adult film star James Deen), his girlfriend Tara (Lindsay Lohan) and her former boyfriend and aspiring actor Ryan (Nolan Gerard Funk).
The film seems to be almost a parody of Schrader’s previous films with twists and turns, sex without passion and violence, both emotional and physical. Schrader always seems to manage to write and direct films about passions and yet they seldom come off as passionate and this one is no exception.
In the Blu-Ray extras, Schrader readily admits that he cast Lohan and Deen for their notoriety, making this film truly an exploitation film. Both stars do their jobs well, by the way, and I wondered if Lohan really realized just how often she is naked or topless in the film.
Essentially this is a film about sad and nasty people doing sad and nasty things to one another and it made me wonder if Schrader understood just how bad it was.