One of the things I noticed about We’re The Millers, as I watched it with my friend Doug, is that he and I often laughed at different parts. Now this probably doesn’t seem like that big of a revelation except for the fact that comedies are usually designed to make people laugh at the same time. We’re The Millers has those moments too, a number of them really. Just a lot of other moments that could be described as “more pleasing than funny depending on who you are.”
Small time drug dealer David is forced by his ruthless boss, Brad Gurdlinger, to put together a fake family in order to smuggle a huge stash of drugs across the Mexican border. You can tell he’s ruthless because he has an aquarium with killer whales eating dolphins. First up is Kenny, his hapless dweeb of a neighbor to play the son. Kenny is in it for the fun because his life has no excitement and his parents have left him. David enlists his neighbor and erotic dancer Rose to play his wife. Jennifer Aniston brings an everywoman, down home, relatable vibe to all of her roles and in We’re The Millers it happens to be an everyday, down home, run of the mill stripper. She’s in it for the money. Social miscreant and probable criminal Casey, is bribed into being the daughter.
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s take on this scenario is in the current spectrum of modern comedies that delve a little darker and go a little further by finding humor in cruel places. Take a group of feckless individuals and make them drive an RV to Mexico and back, stuffed full of drugs. Oh and not all is as it seems. Just maybe they will be pursued by said drug dealers. Maybe they will befriend a DEA agent and his conservative wife on vacation. Maybe everything that could go wrong will go wrong.
We are treated to admittedly funny scenes of full frontal gross out nudity when Kenny has his male parts bitten by a spider. Jason Sudekis is quite entertaining as the fast talking David who has a hilarious fall from a fire escape. The movie is a mixed bag though. In an attempt to steal some car keys from the DEA agent’s tent, the movie pushes us into the obvious sexual jokes when the DEA agent and his wife are awakened. It’s just uncomfortable and forced. Only Sudekis’s portrayal of what we are all thinking… this is weird… brings humor to the situation. The idea of a conservative woman suddenly having overt sexual needs is too played out for me. Maybe I’m jaded from watching members of congress get caught in bathrooms or sexting too much to find this shocking or unexpected anymore. I’m sorry We’re The Millers, but Anthony Weiner made your movie less funny. It’s not your fault.
The film has another side too, though. The one where we learn about the characters as they are hurtled through the Murphy’s Law of a script. Casey just really wants a family. Actually, so does Kenny. And the adversity brings everyone together so that by the end, maybe they could all live as one: a happy family unit via the Helsinki Syndrome. But one of the big problems is David himself vacillates between being uncaring and living for the money and suddenly wanting to connect with everyone. Some of his moves in the film don’t fit the sensibilities of what’s going on. It’s distracting. But not so much I didn’t enjoy myself.
There are laughs to be had. Although I can’t tell you many of them in specifics. There are good feelings to feel. But they aren’t quite sure where to land. And there is strip dancing to see. I’ll just leave that as it is.
This is no Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. It’s probably not trying to be but I couldn’t help compare it. People who don’t get along, living together through the worst scenarios, and coming out of it better people while on a long road trip. We’re The Millers has some fresh jokes to tell, but many that aren’t as well. It plays with movie tropes whilst also doing them. And it goes for human connection but isn’t consistent in the message.
So in the end I give this 110 minute movie 115 minutes. It’s basically what you expect and you basically get what you want. Assuming you like your comedy R-rated. You’ll laugh hard at times, just not enough. And you’ll walk out questioning a few things rather than reveling in how funny it all was. Overall, I enjoyed myself though.