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We're the Millers

2013 | 110 min | R | 2.39:1

We're the Millers


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Theatrical release date

 09 August, 2013
 23 August, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Box office




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Screenshots from We're the Millers Blu-ray

We're the Millers Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, August 7, 2013

“We’re the Millers” feels oddly retro with its bawdy sense of humor, resembling a long lost Farrelly Brother film from 1999. It’s an audience-pleaser with its mind in the gutter, playing up its R-rating with gusto, offering oodles of sex jokes, foul language, and a moment of graphic nudity, unwilling to break any new ground in the genre. Thankfully, the movie is also funny, though rarely hilarious, holding to a steady rhythm of absurdity and slapstick antics that manage to please, with a few highlights hinting at a more interestingly devilish picture than the McDonald’s meal director Rawson Marshall Thurber ultimately slaps together here.

A happy slacker of a drug dealer, David (Jason Sudeikis) manages to keep a low profile as he delivers weed to customers all over the Denver area. After getting involved with abandoned teen neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter), David is robbed by thugs, stripped of his supply and money. Drug lord Brad (Ed Helms) has an offer David can’t refuse, offering to pay a fortune for his top dealer to travel to Mexico in an RV and retrieve piles of marijuana from a violent cartel. Fearing immediate arrest at the border, David concocts a plan to hire stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), runaway Casey (Emma Roberts), and Kenny, recruiting them to play the role of his wholesome family, keeping attention off his smuggling scheme. As “The Millers” take to the road, they develop a bond, with David mistaking the strangers as actual relations, while another road tripping couple, Don (Nick Offerman) and Edie (Kathryn Hahn), cozy up the faux family, testing the acting skills of the drug mules.

It’s hard to believe it has almost been a decade since Thurber first made a splash in Hollywood with his uproarious sports movie satire, “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.” There was another, more contemplative misfire with “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” but “We’re the Millers” finds the helmer returning to his old stomping grounds, orchestrating comedic scenes meant to be felt all the way in the back row of the theater. It’s amazing to witness how willingly the picture plays into modern funny business trends, straining to become as mainstream as possible with its thin premise and addiction to ADR punchlines, making sure every possible moment of silence in the film has a joke pasted on it. We’re not talking sly material here, but deflating rounds of wordplay and pop culture references, finding Sudeikis using his “Saturday Night Live” training to riff until Thurber is satisfied, essentially portraying David as a stand-up comedian in search of a brick wall. It’s not much of a performance, but “We’re the Millers” isn’t about honing material until it’s perfectly ripe. It’s more of a scattergun viewing experience.

“We’re the Millers” certainly has its moments, most emerging from Offerman and Hahn as a Midwestern couple desperate to connect with other road warriors, with the actors bringing out their best impressions of white bread affability, darkened somewhat by their sexual stagnancy, requiring attention from a most reluctant David and Rose to help jumpstart with some easygoing swinging. The actors bring real snap to the picture and understand the importance of delivery. Also engaging are more charged moments of madness, especially one that finds Kenny receiving kissing lessons from both Casey and Rose, horrifying onlookers who don’t know the true relationship of the participants. Some needed oddity is introduced with Scottie (Mark L. Young), a dim carny out to score time with Casey at a carnival, with his bad tattoos, slang, and creeper slouch causing David and Rose to turn into parents, hoping to talk their daughter out of a bad dating decision.

Mapped out jokes and madcap choreography is in limited supply, making true inspiration shine brighter than it actually does. “We’re the Millers” is more interested in infantile material and shock value, with the biggest response to screen antics possibly emerging from a spider bite that engorges Kenney’s testicles, leaving brief flashes of the resulting swelling to pay off the labored concept. Thurber would rather show infected balls than truly mine the moment for something special. However, as R-rated as “We’re the Millers” is, it’s not that lewd. It seems Rose works at the only strip club in the nation that doesn’t require nudity from any of its employees. It’s not exactly a commercial for Denver nightlife.

There’s a rival drug lord out to retrieve his weed involved in the caper, only emerging when the screenplay needs to announce act changes, barely making a dent as an antagonist. The screenplay also dines with disaster by taking David’s relationship with his partners seriously, trying to extract some tenderness as the family becomes a loving unit, pulling Thurber’s climatic punch. There are problems with “We’re the Millers” that mute the positive aspects of the picture; It’s not enough to ruin the movie, but enough to hint that a better film is buried in here somewhere, diluted by an obviousness that doesn’t encourage laughs, just eye-rolling recognition.

Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Ed Helms, Will Poulter, Molly C. Quinn
Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber

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