Will Poulter, Emma Roberts,
Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Ed Helms
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Tagline: If anyone asks
The story commences as debt-ridden drug dealer David (Jason Sudeikis) is coerced by his supplier (Ed Helms) into smuggling a “smidge” (which eventually turns out to be a massive heap) of marijuana across the border. Concerned that he might seem conspicuous and get busted if he makes the journey alone, David hatches the scheme to hire a fake family. Posing as his wife is his neighbour, struggling stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), while playing the part of their kids are surly runaway teenager Casey (Emma Roberts) and a misfit kid from their apartment building Kenny (Will Poulter). They’re the Millers, and together they set off on an RV trip to and then from Mexico, smuggling two tons of drugs into the United States.
Things obviously don’t go as smoothly as David would have hoped, and they predictably run into problems that are usually more preposterous than amusing. The premise is ripe for some dark comedy, but instead director Rawson Marshall Thurber and his writers chose to go down the obvious, formulaic route. While the plot often takes nonsensical turns, you’re never really in any doubt where this road trip is heading. The character arcs lead exactly where you think they will. Obligatory romances and schmaltzy heart-warming moments eventually creep up as the film stumbles on, frequently confusing crude for edgy along the way.
The dodgy characters struggle to be likable. Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston are no strangers to this genre and both seem on autopilot. British actor Will Poulter is well cast as the awkward Kenny and perhaps essays the most sympathetic role in the movie. Ed Helms plays the eccentric drug lord with gusto, although he never comes off as believable. And Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn are shoehorned in for convenience and provide some laughs as the Fitzgeralds, a couple who are on a vacation with their daughter Melissa (Molly Quinn) and befriend the Millers on the road.
Its uneven script and predictable storyline keep the movie from feeling interesting or fresh. None of that, however, means that the film won’t make you laugh – it might or it might not. Humour is notoriously subjective. Realism isn’t a necessary requirement for comedy. Plus a number of movies that rely on crudity have done well at the box office, which means they clearly have an audience. We’re the Millers is aimed at a particular audience who will enjoy its zany proceedings, but it is very unlikely to appeal to everyone. This isn’t a film with clever writing and award-worthy acting or direction. And it could’ve easily used a more thorough edit that could have done away with some of slower, weaker moments in its 110 minute running time. Still, you might be entertained if you don’t go in with high expectations, and fans of its cast members will be more likely to forgive its many flaws. Enjoying crude humour is a prerequisite to liking this film; not expecting originality or complexity will also help. And if you do watch We’re the Millers, make sure you stick around for the outtakes before the end credits, which deliver the biggest laugh of the movie. Then again, what does it say about a film when its funniest scene is in the gags reel?