The adult comedy genre is one of the many go-to categories for summer blockbusters, especially when they’re star-studded and full of heart. Yet for every movie like The Hangover, there are two more that have more in common with The Hangover Part II. Somewhere between the two extremes of raunchy bliss and headache-inducing predictability lies We’re The Millers.
The movie follows David Clark (Jason Sudeikis), your everyday pot dealer who ends up getting robbed and having to pay back his connection (Ed Helms). To do so, he has to drive down to Mexico and pick up “a smidge and a half” of weed and bring it back to Denver. To make the trip easier, David enlists the help of stripper/neighbor Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a lonesome, nerdy neighbor (Will Poulter) and a runaway girl who owes him a favor (Emma Roberts). Together, they form the fake Miller family and hop in an RV to cross the Mexican border.
It’s a simple premise that’s loaded with comedic potential, and the cast manages to squeeze out as many laughs as they can. There are a handful of cameos, but Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn steal the show as a married couple traveling alongside the Millers. Many of the laughs come from the sexually frustrated couple, but the Millers are still more capable of holding their own as well.
Yet as funny as parts of We’re The Millers are, it’s all too predictable to really amount to anything special. Every twist can be seen from miles away, and while the first half of the film is spent making fun of family road trip cliches, the latter half embraces them fully. Despite some wickedly crude jokes, it’s a moderately tame affair that doesn’t push the envelope as far as it could have.
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber is an interesting man to me, and I’ve scoured his Wikipedia page so many times trying to find out why he dropped off the Earth after helming Dodgeball, which is still one of my favorite comedies. Some of the cynicism and biting wit from that film has carried over to We’re The Millers, but Thurber doesn’t take enough risks to elevate it above its peers.
Luckily, the performances onscreen are all spirited, and Aniston and Sudeikis are more than up to the challenge, doing the best they can with what they’re given. Emma Roberts continues to shine, and Will Poulter is perfect as the awkward, inexperienced Kenny. Aniston has lately relished taking dirtier roles than normal, and her moves as a stripper are hilariously sexy. Needless to say, she’s still a fantastic comedic actress.
Much of the comedy comes from the twisting of the family archetype, but the joke can only go so far. Seeing as We’re The Millers almost reaches two hours, it runs out of steam a good half hour before the end. This is another tragic example of having most of the funny parts ruined by the trailers. To make matters more unfortunate, what the trailers don’t cover, the predictability does.
Too many punches are pulled as well, taking away some of the bite that the jokes and scenarios could have had. Instead, it’s all replaced with “heart,” meaning everything gets cornier than it needs to. We don’t need another retelling of the “hilarious road trip bringing a family full of unique personalities together” story. We’re The Millers had so many chances to blow away those stereotypes and create something darker and more cynical.
The best example of what this film could use is the original ending from Thurber’s Dodgeball. Instead of the Average Joe’s winning on a technicality, Globo-Gym wins in the final round and the underdogs walk away with nothing. Sure, it’s rough and unexpected, but come on, it’s better than good always winning, right? We’re The Millers needed something like this so badly, if only to break out of the mold that most adult comedies have fallen into, especially as they try to shoo in “heart” in exchange for how these characters would really react.
Call me cynical, but that’s my biggest problem with this movie: every joke and gag ultimately leads to the same sappy ending, even though they hinted at something so much funnier. At one point, David tries to get Kenny to give a Mexican police officer a blow job as a bribe, and we’re supposed to believe that a day later he’s all about protecting the lovable loser. David starts out as a lazy drug dealer, why should we believe that a weekend changed his outlook on life?
Yet with all that being said, We’re The Millers isn’t a truly awful comedy. If you’re looking for a laugh and don’t mind a few offensive gags here and there, this will tickle your funny bone enough to warrant a viewing. The performances are all inspired, and the scenes with Offerman and Hahn are highlights of the summer, even if the plot can’t give them good material to work with. We’re The Millers won’t be the funniest film you’ll see all year but for those who are looking for something light, fluffy and enjoyable, you might find some value in this one.
We're The Millers certainly doesn't push any boundaries or break new ground, but it's just funny enough to garner a tepid "meh."