We’re the Millers is one of those distinctly predictable road trip stories with a foreseeable plot and a script that is being asked for a sharpening. However, in a summer that has delivered such comedic miscarriages as Grown Ups 2 and The Hangover Part III, We’re the Millers could essentially be observed as a somewhat desirable reprieve.
This lowbrow comedy is permeated with crude jokes and bad language for easy laughs. However, this intention does not work in the films favour, rather the nonconformist casting adds an unexpected conception of innocence in scenes that could otherwise be offensive. That is not to say there is much about We’re The Millers that is in good taste, in fact, it’s pretty tasteless apart from occasional bundles of sweet-natured sentimentality – though this sentiment is, indeed, still rather cheap.
I get the feeling, director Rawson Marshall Thurber (celebrated for Dodgeball) sat down with his four screenwriters, shared a few beers, and formulated the wildest characters in the most bizarre situations. But, these characters are utterly flawed; I certainly had difficulty in believing that, good guy, Jason Sudeikis (playing David) is a veteran drug dealer, or that Jennifer Aniston (playing Rose) is a stripper. We are even lucky enough to see Anniston on the job, with indications that are no doubt meant to be tormenting but look utterly contrived and unconvincing. Though, in fairness, there is a hint that, underneath it all, they are designed to be misunderstood characters – after all, Aniston quits her job when the rules change and she learns strippers must have sex with their clients. She even ends up with a happy ‘family’ come the end of the film.
My few laughs came from rudimentary scenes that were pulled off as harmless fun. The scenes in which an experimenting lesbian fondles Jennifer Aniston’s breasts and a monster spider bites Will Poulter’s testicles, offer some injudicious chortles. The film unfortunately carries its exact potential – an inane Hollywood prototypical tale about drugs, sex and family – with a foreseeable and polished ending. However, then the outtakes appear and I find myself suddenly awakened and laughing; in particular the end outtake with the Friends theme tune “I’ll be there for you”. This was fresh and atypically pleasing on Anniston’s character – if only the whole film mirrored this moment.
Will Poulter (Kenny) steals the show for me and, not far behind is Julia Roberts’ daughter, Emma Roberts (Kasey). It is a play-off between a geeky recluse and an all too streetwise kid. Poulter prospers as a nerd; the scene involving a kissing lesson with his ‘sister’ and ‘mum’ is particularly impressive, the facial expressions are not to be missed. Sudeikis’s character does also manage to expose a few laughs in relation to references from Meryl Streep to Oprah Winfrey.
Though the narrative is exasperatingly meek, there is still some inconsistency. For example, it appears David and Rose are suddenly worrying a great deal about the decisions that Kenny and particularly Kasey are making when, the scene before, they couldn’t have cared less about acting like parents. I think a scene showing how David and Rose came to care for Kenny and Kasey must have been misplaced in the editing process.
All in all, don’t expect any life changing lessons from this buoyant, down-market comedy, but you may cope with an overworked laugh or two.
It’s 2 stars from me, although We’re the Millers wasn’t too far off scraping a commonplace 3.