Movie Review – We’re The Millers
– Summary –
Director : Rawson Marshall Thurber
Year Of Release : 2013
Principal Cast : Jason Sudekis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Ed Helms, Molly Quinn, Tomer Sisley, Matthew Willig, Thomas Lennon, Mark L Young, Luis Guzman.
Approx Running Time : 110 Minutes
Synopsis: After his drug stash is stolen, and his supplier threatens him with death, dealer Dave Clark takes up a mission to travel to Mexico to pick up another shipment from known drug lord Pablo Chacon. Using his neighbors and a homeless girl to pretend to be a family on holiday, things go wrong when his supplier double-crosses him, and the real Pablo Chacon shows up to get his drugs back.
What we think : Wildly uneven comedy manages to remain entertaining even when it veers off course by miles, although the same can’t be said for the sight of Will Poulter’s enlarged scrotum midway through the film. Essentially a one-joke premise that turns into a series of increasingly ludicrous skits, vaguely pretending to be a narrative, We’re The Millers is grossly amusing, slap-your-thighs silly, and entirely disposable. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll probably find moments where you’ll want to fast forward, but the end result is more pleasing than not, so I guess that makes this film something of a success.
The ultimate nuclear family.
Let’s face it: We’re The Millers is famous for one thing. A scene in which Jennifer Aniston, yes she of Friends fame, gets down to her tighty whitey’s and does a wet-water strip tease for her fellow cast-mates. And, ahem, us. Whether you find the comedy in this film serviceable or palatable, or completely reprehensible, every red-blooded male owes it to themselves to check that shit out, right? Thankfully, Aniston’s alluring enticement (and all the press around it) isn’t “the best part of the movie” in the fact that the rest of the film is relatively entertaining for a variety of factors, so don’t think I’m approaching this misogyny with any sense of pride. We’re The Millers is one of those new-fangled “adult comedies”, made by middle aged former frat boys who never grew up, watch car racing and drink beer on Sundays, and enjoy talking about a wide variety of sexual material with as fruity a vocabulary as a mainstream rating will allow. In short, it’s The Hangover without the hangover, that idiotic Asian dude or gratuitous Mike Tyson. There’s laughs aplenty – although you might find a lot of them swing wide and miss high – and winning performances by almost the entire cast, who appear to be having a great time with this nutball idea. We’re The Millers is lowbrow comedy, sure, and it’s aimed squarely at the crowd who enjoy watching people talk like they’re in an episode of Family Guy, so if that’s the kind of stuff you think you’ll appreciate, then read on, dear friend.
Synopsis courtesy Wikipedia: Low level marijuana drug dealer David Clark (Jason Sudekis) is robbed of his money and stash, some of which he owes to his supplier. His boss, wealthy drug lord Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms) forces David to smuggle marijuana from Mexico in order to clear his debt. Realizing that one man attempting to get through customs is too suspicious, he hires a stripper named Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a runaway teenage girl and thief named Casey (Emma Roberts), and his 18 year-old neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter) to pose as a bogus family called the “Millers”. Because of the extra load of the marijuana on the RV, one of the radiator hoses breaks while going up a steep incline. A family they had encountered at the border called the Fitzgeralds, consisting of Don (Nick Offerman), Edie (Kathryn Hahn), and Melissa (Molly Quinn), catch up to them and tow the Millers’ RV to a repair shop. On the trip to the shop, David learns that Don Fitzgerald is a DEA agent after finding his badge and gun in the glove compartment. The marijuana turns out to be stolen from Pablo Chacon’s (Tomer Sisley) cartel, and Pablo wants his drugs back. What was a simple grab and run for drugs, turns into a wild cross-country pursuit, all to deliver the drugs on time so David can score his big payday.
Sometimes, broad-spectrum comedy like this doesn’t work. More often, the crude jokes and flapper casting can leave a “riotous” comedy film floundering in mediocrity and lame-ass laughs, most of which are either dated six months later (read that, Scary Movie people?) or just plain unfunny (read that, Scary Movie people?). We’re The Millers works against this, however, thanks mainly to the casting of Jason Sudekis and Jennifer Aniston, both of whom do solid work here to make the utterly ludicrous plot seem somehow…. manageable. That’s not to say you don’t need to take some salt into watching this film, because it is utterly ridiculous, but the cast all tackle the bawdy material gamely, and the direction from Rawson Marshall Thurber (sounds like a Mountain Man, right?) is pretty solid. We’re The Millers goes for scrotum-twitching comedy, the kind of low-definition humor made infamous by those horrendous Jackass movies, where watching people engage in pratfalls and bodily mutilations (and the increasingly awkward sexual situation) seems to be the mantra for making an audience laugh. Look, if that’s your kind of humor, then go for it. Me, I prefer a more cerebral style of comedy, and I’d assumed We’re The Millers would end up being yet another chore of a film for me to wade through, hip deep in puerile muck and dick jokes.
I’m pleased to say that although I did have to wade through an unedifying sequence where co-star Will Poulter’s genitals are flashed, distended and deformed by a spider bite, on the screen, the film is actually pretty funny. That’s not saying it isn’t without its share of issues, but overlooking them and concentrating on the comedy makes it all seem worthwhile.The story isn’t so much an idea as it is a smashing together of about three or four ideas, and caressing them into a vaguely plot-driven story. The characters within the story are the primary focus – this ain’t no action film – and through David and Rose’s gradual (inevitable) attraction and bonding, and the entire “family” coming together through thick and thin, the comedy is given weight.
Jason Sudekis’ performance here is off-kilter by a wide margin. He’s supposed to be the good guy we root for in this film (I guess, for a drug dealer) but he flits between hamming it for the camera, delivering quite charming dramatic sensitivity, and mugging shamlessly throughout, leaving his character one of those “guess even though he’s a douche we still have to appreciate what he’s doing” kinda guys. Sudekis gives it his all, and I applaud him for taking the film seriously enough to make it actually funny. He’s no Jim Carrey, but he’s good enough here. Jennifer Aniston provides the sexy and the maternal as Rose, the matriarch of the pretend Millers; Aniston’s no stranger to comedy, or making a fool of herself for that matter (her turn in Horrible Bosses remains a favorite of mine) and she’s able to provide almost everything the story here demands. Aniston’s comedic timing is on-song, her rapport with Sudekis, co-stars Poulter and Emma Roberts is effortless, and her natural screen presence remains as captivating as ever. Emma Roberts (daughter of Eric, niece of Julia), as the Miller’s daughter, is spitfire and wild, but hiding an inner strength under the external bluster. Roberts’ role doesn’t quite have the same impact as, say, Will Poulters, but she provides some sass where it’s needed. Poulter, meanwhile, provides a ton of this films laughs, largely through being a nerdy, dimwitted, shy conker; his kissing scene with Roberts and Aniston is as gut-bustingly funny as it is sweet, while his spider-afflicted-junk reveal will forever be seared into my brain. Poulter is deadpan-straight the entire way through, and as far as this viewer is concerned, is probably the best part of the film.
Where things tend to fall a little flat is the pacing of it all; the film’s middle act, with convoluted scenes involving the Fitzgerald family (headed by a weird Nick Offerman, and a never-shuts-up Kathryn Hahn, who is hi-larious!) tend to go on far longer than needed, and there’s a sequence in the film where Dave up and leaves his “family” behind in order to scamper to the drop off, before returning out of some kind of… what, guilt? It’s not quite clear, but this entire sequence feels undercooked. Some comedic moments do linger longer than required too, such as Dave and Rose’s inquisition of Casey’s potential carny suitor, Scottie P (Mark L Young), which becomes painful after about three minutes. Depends on your tolerance for awkward, I guess. Had the film been tighter, less reliant on cramming every joke they could think of into the script, and more focused on the core characters (Ed Helm’s drug lord character gets way too much screen time, but then I’m not a huge Helms fan anyway) then it might have been a punchier, more memorable film.
We’re The Millers does what it needs to do. It comes along, makes you chuckle, giggle and guffaw, and I guess if any of that happens you could call this a success. It’s not a perfect film, and much of its humor and subject matter won’t appeal to everyone, but for being at least commendably entertaining as an adult comedy, We’re The Millers is worth a look. Especially for Aniston’s strip-tease. Dang, I wasn’t gonna mention that again!
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