We’re the Millers review

We're the Millers poster

It’s been a fairly weak year for comedy so far, with Despicable Me 2 and The Heat standing out as two notable successes. However, another to add to the list will be We’re the Millers. A surprise hit across the pond at the US box office and for good reason too, as We’re the Millers knows no bounds.

We're the Millers (Emma Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis and Will Poulter)David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) is a small time drug dealer. A brave attempt to help the young runaway Casey (Emma Roberts) from a bunch of thieves unfortunately results in his home being broken into, with all the money he owes his supplier Brad (Ed Helms) being stolen. To make up for this, Brad forces David to spend his July 4th weekend going to Mexico to smuggle “a smidge and a half” of marijuana. After seeing a family in an RV receiving special treatment from a police officer, David is suddenly under the impression that he needs to recruit a fake family in order to get away with smuggling drugs across the border. So he hires Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a stripper, to pose as his wife, Casey as his daughter, and lonely neighbour Kenny (Will Poulter) to be his son. 

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, responsible for breakout comedy Dodgeball, We’re the Millers functions on a predictably bad idea scenario where things go wrong, thus hilarity ensures. The bad idea scenario of a fake family smuggling drugs is a thin concept upon which to hang numerous close shave set-pieces, with the Millers almost having their cover blown on quite a few occasions. The situations they find themselves in are both unexpected and absurd, ranging from Rose hiding a bag of marijuana in a blanket, inadvertently ‘creating’ a baby (which the family affectionately refer to as Weed Baby) and Kenny getting bit by a tarantula. Only in the movies kids.

While the film has four credited writers, outtakes at the end show that Thurber was welcome to having his cast improvise on set. Likely done to squeeze every joke for what it’s worth, for he does have a knack for pushing the ridiculous. Some of the gags are signposted, but David and Rose’s swinging encounter with another couple and Kenny practicing kissing are just a few examples where you might find yourself saying, “Can this possibly get any more insane?” And then it totally goes there, and is actually all the better for it. 

There is a bit of gross out humour that might offend some viewers (who probably wouldn’t really watch this out of choice in the first place), and a few moments of cracking wit that could fly by unnoticed due to the audience laughing too much (in an unbelievable show of solidarity to his fake daughter, David says to another family, “Nothing ruins your life more than having children”).

We're the Millers (Poulter, Aniston, Sudeikis, Roberts)Jason Sudeikis deserves more leading roles. Keeping it all together as the self-centred David (he insults an innocent family about three times within the space of a minute), he slowly warms up to his fake family and even breaks the fourth wall during Jennifer Aniston’s ‘why-the-hell-is-everyone-talking-about-this’ strip scene. Aniston is a competent comic actress and gets some rewarding moments where her character Rose challenges David’s decisions. She also swears… a lot. Unfortunately she’ll probably end up being remembered for taking her clothes off in a strip scene that’s likely to make some women in the audience feel depressed (guys, be careful if you’re taking your other half).

Will Poulter as Kenny manages to deliver laughs in almost every scene he’s in, mainly due to his character’s naivety, which does border upon the cringeworthy at times. Roberts doesn’t actually get to do much till her character Casey finally gets some attention during the third act, when she attempts to run away (again). Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn provide a memorable turn as Don and Edie respectively, a married couple that run into the Millers. As supporting characters scripted with larger than expected roles, they are enjoyably kooky to the point where a spin-off film involving them might not be a bad thing. Tomer Sisley as a stereotypical drug lord brings some unnecessary bad guy menace and action.

Amid the drug smuggling it’s not too hard to see that the fake Millers family will end up (gasp!) developing feelings for each other and helping each other out. Without going into spoilers, they all manage to come together in a finale that feels rushed as the film’s bizarre set of circumstances reach a typically cloy conclusion. However, Thurber keeps backstory and character arcs simple and to a minimum, instead focusing on littering the film with gags. In doing so, We’re the Millers is up there for delivering the most laughs out of anything viewed so far this year; not just from myself, but also the audience I was viewing it with.

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