Unsurprisingly, Critics Prefer Indies ‘In a World…’ and ‘Prince Avalanche’ to ‘We’re the Millers’

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As summer weekends go, this is a pretty decent one for comedy films. And it’s particularly good one for Nick Offerman fans, as he appears in two of the three comedies opening today (In a World… and We’re the Millers.)

In a World…, written and directed by actress Lake Bell, is the clear critic’s pick of the weekend, earning an 85% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 79/100 at Metacritic. The film stars Bell as a vocal coach attempting to break through the glass ceiling of movie trailer voiceovers, and co-stars Demetri Martin, Ken Marino, and Tig Notaro. The New York Times raves that it’s “smart, generous and altogether winning” and describes it as “a show-business satire, a family drama, a feminist parable and a sweet romantic comedy.” The LA Times calls it “completely endearing” and a “slight and exceedingly sly indie,” while Time Out New York is cooler on the film, giving it three stars and lamenting Bell’s decision to “infantilize her elsewhere-confident main character as yet another disheveled woman-child.”

Another praised indie film opening this weekend is the Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch comedy-drama Prince Avalanche, about two road workers who spend the summer of 1988 painting lines on a country highway. Loosely based on the Icelandic film Either Way, the movie earned 79% on Rotten Tomatoes and 70/100 on Metacritic. Variety calls it an “unconventional, ultimately rather sweet buddy pic that’s an audiovisual treat,” while Vulture, referring to it as “beautiful [and] beguiling,” says “the movie barely seems to hold together. Could it even be called a movie? And yet, it’s captivating.” The New Yorker, on the hand, praised Rudd’s performance but said the film felt “inconsequential and contrived.” (No mention of the glaring lack of Offerman.)

Critics weren’t such a big fan of the weekend’s big Hollywood comedy, Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston’s We’re the Millers. The film earned only 40% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 42/100 over on Metacritic. Sudeikis plays a small-time pot dealer who coerces Aniston and two local teenagers to stand in as his fake family to move a serious drug shipment across the border. The Village Voice rails that the film’s “characterization [is] uneven, its potential undeveloped, and its plot predictable and stupid,” while USA Today calls it “offensive” and accuses it of being “tone-deaf, mistaking the cringe-worthy for edgy humor.” Salon took a more positive view, acknowledging that “almost nothing that happens in the story is worth describing in detail,” but calling it “not just watchable but funny and ultimately rewarding.”