It seems like ‘dumb-ass’ comedy on offer here, a goodhearted road movie that covers a lot of bumpy ground along the way. However, it has a strong will that you just can’t knock that aims to make the lives of its delinquent fake family a little more gratified in the end. Oh, and it promises Friends star Jennifer Aniston in her undies – as gratuitous (and irrelevant as the plot goes) as can be imagined, naturally.
We’re The Millers’s improvisation actually works against the darker-edge humour it tries for in the first half. Falling in the former category means a lot of the characterisation is stereotypical and events rather predictable. However, like any road movie, it’s always how the players get from start to finish that counts, and director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s film is no exception: has its funny bits and its flat bits but generally, it’s an entertaining watch.
When small-time drug dealer David (Jason Sudeikis) gets robbed, his unhinged yuppie boss, Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms), forces him to bring a batch of cannabis over the US-Mexican border, telling him to say it’s for ‘Pablo Chacon’. David hatches an idea of creating a pretend family to take along as a cover story – jaded stripper and neighbour Rose (Aniston) as mum and nitwit neighbour Kenny (Will Poulter) and foul-mouthed ‘homeless’ girl Casey (Emma Roberts) as his kids, all travelling in a Winnebago as a normal family on holiday. With a few hiccups along the way, including an encounter with fellow ‘average’, travelling family, the Fitzgeralds (great turns from Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn, with Molly C. Quinn) and with the real Pablo Chacon (Tomer Sisley) and his henchman on their tail, will the Millers get home and dry with the dope…
We’re The Millers will be remembered for two things: ‘walking yoga ad’ Aniston in wet skimpy briefs like some Victoria Secrets model, trying desperately to move sexily like a seasoned pro, and Poulter sporting a painfully embarrassing never-region injury inflicted by a spider. If cheap gags are all it takes, this film serves them up for sheer entertainment value. Shame, really, as there are two standout scenes, one involving both sets of parents (Millers and Fitzgeralds) as things get a little experimental, and Sudeikis and Aniston in one of the film’s better improvs unwittingly turning into their elders.
Sadly, Aniston’s fit form and Poulter’s crotch job overshadow anything resembling well-written gags gets because the tone can’t decide between slapstick and dark humour, so slides to the former – even from the start with infamous YouTube joke clips. This goes to trivialise any touching comedy innovation of, say, the Little Miss Sunshine variety, another ‘self healing’ road movie with mismatched family players.
That said We’re The Millers is also very self aware, with some looks to camera that say ‘yes, we know’, allowing daftness to prevail and injecting a gleeful sardonic side. Combine this maybe with the bittersweet edge of Miss Sunshine – after all, each Miller member has individual issues that need addressing – and we could have had a more intriguing concept to bear witness to. After all, Marshall Thurber has a great cast to hand, especially in one-to-watch Brit Poulter of Son of Rambow fame who gets his ‘career highlight’ moment entangling with Aniston. Instead, the film is one gag set up and played out, followed by the anticipation of another. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just We’re The Millers appears to be trying harder to be more than a gag reel of silliness as it has genuine heart and concern. Stick around for the end credits for an Aniston surprise – or not, perhaps? There’s also a faint whiff of sequel on the cards too, if we take to the Millers.
By Lisa Giles-Keddie