'We're the Millers' offensive and hilarious
I haven't seen many comedies this summer, but "We're the Millers" likely will clock in as my top pick of the season. Before going any further with this review, be warned, the overwhelming majority of the laughs from "We're the Millers" come from gross-out gags and not-so-subtle sexual innuendos.
This is not a family experience nor do I imagine it would be funny to anyone who has a distaste for very crude humor. For those who enjoy an intentionally offensive, slightly mindless comedy romp that shoots for shock-value laughs, then "We're the Millers" is a great way to spend two hours.
Jason Sudeikis plays a small-time pot dealer who recruits a band of fellow misfits to pose as a stereotypically wholesome family for a drug-smuggling road trip.
Jennifer Aniston is both hilarious and stunning as a down-on-her-luck stripper. This fake family is rounded out by weak link Emma Roberts and the reason to see this movie -- English actor Will Poulter who plays socially awkward teenager Kenny.
Three out of the four leads are each very funny in their own right and play well off each other. Poulter, however, steals the show; no small feat when it's comedy vets Sudeikis and Aniston who are on the receiving end of the burglary. I couldn't suppress giggles when Poulter was on screen doing nothing more than silently starring at the camera. Everything about the character of Kenny is hysterically funny -- the writing, the costuming and, most of all, the acting. If there is a category for "most comical eyebrows" at next year's Academy Awards, I will eat my own hat if Poulter does not win.
All in all, "We're the Millers" is a consistently funny comedy that hits almost all of the right notes. If you can stomach the humor, "We're the Millers" is a gut-buster.
5 of 6 stars
'Elysium' is no paradise
Elysium is the name for heaven or paradise in Greek mythology -- which is an unfortunate irony when examined alongside the film "Elysium." The concept is interesting from many approaches and, in my opinion, fails at nearly every one.
I could not find a five minute stretch in this movie when I didn't want to yell at the screen. There are constant inconsistencies and more stupid ideas than I could shake a stick at. To add insult to injury, "Elysium" was helmed by Neill Blomkamp, who directed the near universally praised "District 9." The greatest strength of "District 9" was its examination of the societal and cultural implications that arise after an alien ship becomes stranded over Johannesburg, South Africa.
"Elysium" attempts to explore concepts of socioeconomic class and immigration -- but ultimately succeeds only in exploring goofy, distracting accents.
I recently learned what the term "Red Team" means and even more recently learned "Elysium" desperately needed one. A Red Team is a fresh set of eyes that examines a project, story or idea and attempts to find the logic holes that those involved might have overlooked.
Friends don't let friends make a movie without a Red Team.
3 of 6 stars
James Gerstner works at Fort Hays State University Foundation. firstname.lastname@example.org