It would be totally understandable if you had written off We’re the Millers. After a summer of lackluster comedies and momentous disappointments it’s hard to believe that an August comedic release was going to deliver us the truly funny movie of the summer. The trailers did look funny, but that never shows the whole truth and the blatant sexual pandering of Jennifer Aniston in sheer underwear was a bit concerning for the film’s actual comedic value.
However, if you dug a bit deeper you might have found reasons to believe that this movie could work. It was written by the guys who did Wedding Crashers, it stars Jason Sudekis and the guy behind the camera directed Dodgeball. That’s some serious comedy street cred, so hope was there. That hope was entirely warranted.
We’re the Millers
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Release Date: August 7, 2013
We’re the Millers is definitely a raunchy comedy, and it completely works as that with jokes and slapstick that keep it almost continuously funny throughout. It’s the kind of film that shows you an engorged penis that was just bitten by a spider on screen. It’s also the kind of film whose plot is pretty thin. David Clark (Jason Sudeikis), a small time drug dealer, gets his stash stolen and is thus commanded by his supplier to go on a drug run to Mexico. In order to get past customs he decides to pose as a happy family by recruiting his stripper neighbor, Rose O’Reilly (Jennifer Aniston), to play his wife; another neighbor, Kenny Rossmore (Will Poulter) to play his son; and a runnaway girl, Casey Mathis (Emma Roberts) to play his daughter. The group all gathers together to pretend to be a family and makes there way to and from Mexico attempting to hide the drugs in an RV.
What works in the movie is its offensive and raunchy comedy, a type of comedy that most often just goes horribly wrong. The entire cast is simply fantastic at making the gross out stuff work and even better at delivering the site gags. Sudeikis is obviously the core of the group, but it’s Poulter who steals the show as the half-witted fake son with a heart of gold. Anniston and Roberts are both fine on screen, but don’t get much of a chance to show off… well, comedically at least. Anniston has the strip scene the trailers have been bombarding us with, of course, but a fourth wall breaking moment from Sudeikis at least lets us know that the filmmakers knew how exploitative it actually is.
The adult comedy does, however, grind up against the film’s attempt to have a heart. Obviously the fake family starts to grow into a real one as they’re put through different trials and tribulations, but unfortunately the emotionally scenes seem at a complete disconnect with the comedic ones. More like a collection of scenes that could make a movie instead of a coherent whole. We’re delivered plenty of great comedy, but when it comes to the big emotional moments they just aren’t really there. This is especially true in the overly saccharine ending that almost seems at odds with the entire films ethos.
Some of the blame has to sit with director Rawson Marshall Thurber who forgot what he did so well with Dodgeball: let the funny people be funny. Instead the film seems a bit to chopped together and far too interested in getting to the part where Aniston strips (that could have just been me though). The timing is great because the actors are great at comedy, but Thurber doesn’t really allow it all to flow together. It results in a bunch of hilarious sketch pieces that never make the movie whole. It’s a funny movie, but it isn’t a complete one.
It’s easy to point out the faults in We’re the Millers because it is definitely not a complete comedy, but it is the funniest one this summer. While the level of raunch and sex on show is prolific this film makes it work by at least attempting to have a bit more story and character to it then some of the other offerings the genre we’ve had. Raunchy comedy obviously has to be raunchy and when it’s done well it will leave you laughing hard. That’s how We’re the Millers will leave you.