Lately Hollywood has been coming up with a plethora of very intriguing and potential filled ideas upon which could be made a great number of entertaining films. It’s just too bad that only a scant few of these movies have been able to rise up to the promise of their premise. A drug dealer whose life depends on his skills of deception and disguising himself as a family man with the help of a stripper, and two young dysfunctional teenagers is an interesting concept indeed, and one that could be effectively played for laughs or serious drama, or some combination of both were this a better movie. The problem here is that the writers and director of this movie did not seem have the necessary cojones to make We’re The Millers the kind of movie that it could and by all rights, should have been.
Instead they made a movie that tries to have its cake and eat it too. This movie wants you to think it’s dark, edgy, and dirty in the vein of say Pineapple Express or Bad Santa, two movies with similar dark themes that actually had the conviction to be as raunchy and outrageous as their stories demanded without unneeded and forced sentimentality or lame and low rent Saturday Night Live level slapstick gags and other bits that just reinforce how little confidence the writers actually have in the story itself, or at least, their abilities to tell it faithfully and funnily. This movie aspires to the levels of movies like that, but alas, on the inside this movie is as uninspired, gooey and formulaic as any run of the mill episode of Full House or Home Improvement ever was.
You ever see a comedian who knows his material is bombing so he throws himself into manic overdrive trying to force you to laugh at him? That’s kind of what’s going on here. Jason Sudeikis goes all out over the top in his performance here, trying everything he can and then some to make this movie funny. His antics sometimes prove detrimental as Sudeikis seems not to be so much a participant in the movie but an outside commentator on it, which would be okay if he were not the main character here. He plays David Clark, a meandering thirty-something who makes his living being a low level drug dealer, until as fate would have it, some teenage punks steal his entire stash and the money that accompanied it. As punishment, or just for his own personal amusement, his billionaire boss, played by Ed Helms, forces him to drive down to Mexico and pick up a large shipment of Marijuana from his feared rival in a Mexican drug cartel. So David decides the best disguise is to adopt a fake family and hide in plain sight, albeit in a giant RV, which leads him to solicit the help of a local stripper, and a couple nearby teenagers who happen to be available.
Who else is tired of women who are too classy to go all the way getting roles that require them to play strippers, porn stars, and prostitutes? Aren’t there enough “normal” roles out there for ladies, (and indeed she is a lady, and a beautiful and talented one at that) such as Jennifer Aniston? Jennifer Aniston’s movie career is an enigma to me. She appears to have all the charm, beauty, sex appeal, and talent as Julia Roberts, but she has yet to find a role that really allows her to show that to her full potential. At one point in this movie the lives of everyone in the fake Miller family depends on Jennifer Aniston’s ability to convince a group of ruthless drug dealers that she is in actuality, a stripper, and not a suburban housewife. She then proceeds to do the most carefully choreographed (with perfectly arranged flying sparks and a sprinkler system even) and PG strip tease imaginable. Now, if the villains provided in this movie had been actual people with even minimally functioning brains of some kind and not the asinine one dimensional plot devices that they are portrayed as here, then by all accounts, the whole movie should have been over at this point as the Millers get gunned down, gangland style.
Will Poulter stars as Kenny Rossmore, David’s next door neighbor and the adopted teenage son of the bunch. This is a young man who certainly seems to have a future in awkward geeky teenage roles such as this. He has a subplot love interest with the daughter of the Fitzgerald’s, an odd family the Millers meet while on the road, that adds to the sitcom like nature of the movie. Emma Roberts plays Casey Mathis, 15 years old runaway who becomes the daughter of the faux family. Her character shows sparks of life at times, but in the end it all gets buried by tacked on melodrama. The Fitzgerald family here consists of Nick Offerman as Don Fitzgerald, an oafish Ned Flanders type who also happens to be a DEA agent, Kathryn Hahn as Edie Fitzgerald, Don’s wife, a sexually repressed caricature that is enticed by the idea of becoming a swinger with the Millers, and finally Molly Quinn as Melissa Fitzgerald, the duo’s teenage daughter who has the aforementioned romance with young Kenny.
This movie is very dependent on the idiot rule of thumb, which states that all of the problems of the movie could be solved in five minutes if everyone in it were not in fact, an idiot. Take for instance a scene where Jennifer Aniston successfully passes off a bundle of pot as a newborn baby. This movie is filled with bits like that and other typical early Adam Sandler type moments such as spiders biting people in the testicles and assorted lowball high-jinks like that. I suppose there’s audience for this but again, to me this just showed me that the makers of this movie lacked the confidence in the material to actually go full bore with it, and instead copped out with safe old numbers like this. Another good rule of thumb states that any movie that shows outtakes during the final credits is normally hedging its bets based off of fears that the actual material they left in the movie was inadequate to satisfy the audience. In this case, those fears prove correct.
I actually went into this movie with somewhat good expectations, but as you can probably deduce, those expectations were hardly lived up to. If you’ve seen the Robin Williams movie RV, you’ve basically already seen this movie. It’s got the same basic plotline with the family coming to accept each other and learn valuable lessons over the course of a rollicking road adventure. It’s even got the same played out stereo type of the annoying “family from hell” that just won’t leave you alone. Just add in a little bit of marijuana and some minor potty language and there you have it. I definitely wouldn’t advise anyone to throw away money on the likes of this, but if it comes on television late one night, and there are no decent infomercials to pass the time with, perhaps then, give it a try, it’s well enough made from a technical standpoint and its running time is short enough, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
We’re The Millers gets a two out of five: FORGETTABLE.