At first glance “We're the Millers” seems like it's going to be just another throwaway R-rated comedy. Even though it has a talented cast, it strikes you as the type of movie that will squander its potential with stupid, raunchy gags that get old quickly. Fortunately, Rawson Marshall Thurber’s film is actually much sharper than you’d expect. “We’re the Millers” catches you off guard with consistent humor and heart that holds your attention for the duration of this zany, yet predictable flick.
Unlike other family road trip comedies such as “Vacation,” the journey’s purpose in “We’re the Millers” is hilariously devious: to smuggle drugs. The trouble starts when David Clark (Jason Sudeikis), a small-time pot dealer, agrees to pick up “a smidge of mare-i-ji-wana” from Mexico for his boss Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms). David knows he’ll be able to get down there, but he’s certain that he’ll arouse suspicion by himself. In a flash of inspiration, he realizes that he’ll be much less conspicuous if he has a family. There’s just one problem though; David is missing the rest of his domestic unit. So he hires his virginal neighbor Kenny Rossmore (Will Poulter), a mischievous drifter Casey Mathis (Emma Roberts), and an exhausted stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston) to play his family, “The Millers.”
Although their trip isn’t too bad at first, it quickly devolves into one comical disaster after another. They unwittingly piss off a drug lord (Tomer Sisley), come across a corrupt Mexican cop (Luis Guzman), and become travel companions for a kooky Midwestern family (Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn and Molly C. Quinn). Will The Millers overcome these obstacles to complete their mission? Or will they kill each other in the process?
A lot of quality laughs in this film come from this ragtag group’s transformation into a wholesome family. The characters’ sarcasm about the process cuts surprisingly deep to expose the hell of “normal” family life. As comical as it is to watch these characters rebel against familial stereotypes, it’s even funnier to see how fast they fall into them. They squabble about visiting a rest stop, they get on each other’s nerves playing games like Pictionary, and the adults even default into custodial roles. The most comical example of Rose and David’s substitute parenting comes when Casey wants to date. Convinced that the hillbilly carny Scotty P. (Mark L. Young) isn’t worthy of their “daughter,” they interrogate him together and ridiculously exploit his stupidity.
Another great source of chuckles in the movie are the incredibly awkward situations that The Millers become entangled in. These scenarios are so uncomfortable that you can’t stop giggling and you can’t look away. In certain scenes, Aniston and Sudeikis make these moments even more comical by doing a bit where they discreetly mouth things to each other.
“We’re the Millers” is a great parody of traditional road trip movies, but disappointingly its story is highly predictable. Additionally, there are points where the humor devolves into lowbrow stuff involving male genatalia. These shortcomings don’t keep the movie from stumbling too much though, since the laughs are steady and the tale has genuine heart. The Millers are fake, yet their genuine affection for each other make this makeshift family feel real. The idea that these underdogs could find happiness together feels appropriate given that the director and writing team behind “We’re the Millers” brought us comedies like “Dodgeball,” “Wedding Crashers,” and “Hot Tub Time Machine.”
Just like me you might be wary of this film because of its crass trailers, however you should fight past your reservations to see it. This family road trip is definitely worth your time.
My Grade: B...as in Basically a Decent Film. Brought Down by a Some Bad Things.