When successfully small time pot dealer David (Jason Sudeikis) is robbed, he’s in deep trouble with his boss (Ed Helms). To make up for the loss, he’s convinced to travel to Mexico to pick up a “smidge” of weed and bring it back over the border. With a plan that involves creating a fake touristy family to blend in, it seems like everything will work out without too much of a problem. That is until a “smidge” turns out to be a loosely used term, and picking it up might be better described as stealing it from some very dangerous people.
With a dorky kid (Will Poulter) who may or may not have been abandoned by his mother and a runaway (Emma Roberts) as his two kids and his stripper neighbor (Jennifer Aniston) as his wife, David forms the Millers – a dysfunctional group that threatens to either implode on itself or become a real family.
Despite sounding like yet another awkward road trip movie, the film starts out with promise. Sudeikis has his sarcastic delivery down pat and David is funny enough that we like him, even if he’s a big immature jerk most of the time. The film moves along at a fantastic clip with just enough expository setup to tell us where we’re going, but then spends very little time getting there – which is a good thing. I don’t want to be promised a fake family drug smuggling road trip and not be given that until halfway through. The gas of this RV is on the floor from the get-go.
Witty vulgarities abound, and all the characters are funny in their own way – especially Poulter’s Kenny (though I wish the concept that being a being virgin automatically makes you less of a person wasn’t once again so strongly reinforced). When the R-rated elements are embraced, the comedy flows nicely. It’s when the film remembers it’s supposed to be a family story that it falters a little. There are some sentimental moments that threaten to turn the narrative into formulaic festival of family values and life lessons. Thankfully these moments are few, and still keep some wit and edge about them so that even the bonding moments don’t bog down the comedy too much.
Every time the film threatens to lose its way and become tedious, it’s pulled back over the line – often by Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn who portray a couple of actual vacationing RVers and who are not quite as reserved as they might initially appear.
If there’s a weak link, for me that would be Aniston. While she pulls off the foul-mouthed stripper with motherly instincts perfectly well, I can’t shake the feeling that she’s only here to prove she’s still got the goods as the result of an actress’s midlife crisis. Either that, or I just still can’t see her as anyone but Rachel. Which could easily be another reason she took this role. Either way, it’s distracting.
Despite not straying too far from formula, We’re the Millers manages not to feel like yet another road trip comedy. There are enough laughs and clever moments to stay fresh for the duration. It just misses really standing out as something special, though, by still feeling like a family flick despite the R rating. I do see the irony in that, of course, seeing as that combination does make it a bit unique, but at the same time it seems just a big caught between the two worlds of sentimentality and all out laughs. There are some good laughs though.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“It was cute, but a little too raunchy for my taste.”
My Rating: Three out of Five Hats
We’re the Millers sneaks into 3,150 theaters August 7