A film review by Craig J. Koban December 6, 2013  


2013, R, 110 mins.


Jason Sudeikis as David  /  Jennifer Aniston as Rose  /  Emma Roberts as Casey  /  Will Poulter as Kenny  /  Ed Helms as Brad Gurdlinger  /  Nick Offerman as Don Fitzgerald  /  Kathryn Hahn as Edie Fitzgerald  /  Thomas Lennon as Rick Nathanson  /  Mark L. Young as Scottie P. 

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber  /  Written by Dan Fybel and Rich Rinaldi

WE’RE THE MILLERS is one of those aggressively lewd and crude R-rated comedies that certainly seemed cutting edge say, I dunno, a few decades ago.  Now, it sort of comes off with a been there, done that vibe of creative inspiration.  There is certainly a kernel of a compelling premise to the film, not to mention that it sports a uniformly game cast that is willing to go the distance with the material to score laughs.  However, WE’RE THE MILLERS – the longer it progresses – seems to have less and less of an actual story to tell, which is more than emphasized by the fact that the resulting film feels more like a loose conglomeration of TV sitcom worthy sketches than a fully realized movie. 

The setup of this comedy, though, is easy to like.  It introduces us to a Denver pot dealer named David Clark (Jason Sudeikis, a good fit for this type of loveably smarmy character) that’s good at what he does and makes a decent living doing it.  He runs into considerable trouble in the opening sections of the film when he tries to help his semi-dimwitted and weak-willed teen neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter), from being attacked by some street thugs.  While attempting to save the poor sap from certain pummeling and embarrassment, David finds his best stash – and all of his loot – stolen, most of which does not belong to him, but rather to his boss/supplier Brad Gurdlinger (the always funny Ed Helms).  David soon realizes that he is in one pickle of a situation. 

He decides to visit his employer and beg for mercy regarding the $43,000 he now owes him.  Brad, who despite being an outwardly nice chap, is actually a ruthless criminal, but he decides to take a bit of pity on David: he won’t kill him, but he gives him an opportunity to repay him through completing a drug smuggling run to Mexico.  The problem being is that there is no simple and easy way to make it through border patrol without tipping off the agents that he’s smuggling massive amounts of pot into America.  David then has an epiphany.  He will hide from the border agents…in plain sight…by posing as a painfully ordinary family man  in a large Winnebago.  When he sees another family that gets off the hook with a local police officer because of their obnoxious niceness, David realizes that his plan just might work.   



One problem: David has no family.  Well, no problem!  He decides to hire one for the road trip.  He manages to easily convince Kenny to pose as his son (mostly because he has nothing else better to do), but has a bit more trouble with finding a daughter and wife.  He eventually enlists a perpetually potty mouth street girl, Casey (Emma Roberts) and a local stripper, Rose (Jennifer Aniston) to becomes his new daughter and wife respectively.  Posing now as a terrible average family (the Millers), the posse embarks on their clandestine trip south of the border to secure Gurdlinger’s weed and bring it back stateside.  They do manage to make it through the border without a hitch in their new RV, but, rather predictably, when the Millers discover that the amount of weed is far beyond what they were expecting, complications rear their ugly heads.  That, and the fake family unit begins to act like a real family unit.   

Of the positives of WE’RE THE MILLERS I will say this: Sudeikis has a knack for playing agreeable assholes rather well.  David is a persona that’s so uncompromisingly self-centered that it almost becomes an oddly endearing and hysterical quality about him.  Helms, in just a few scant scenes, is also amusing playing his drug boss that dresses in luxurious suits and has a penchant for collecting marine life.  Also a comedic standout is the 20-year-old Will Poulter, who manages to play a character that teeters between innocent sweetness and head smacking stupidity.  He’s also a social virgin when it comes to the act of scoring with girls, so you just know that there’s gonna be a scene in the film with his – cough – sister and mother teaching him the ins and outs or making out.  Poulter’s reactions in scenes like this – and many others in the film – scores the film's biggest laughs. 

Yet, for as much goodwill as some of the cast bestows on this film, there’s no denying the fact that WE’RE THE MILLERS – if you excuse the road trip genre pun – is a comedy that spins its wheels a bit too leisurely and haphazardly.  The film’s setup is inspired as is the build-up to the drug score, but just about everything that happens after that on the journey back home are made up of scenes so loosely gathered together that it comes off as if the writers were making it up as they went along.  There are funny sections here and there – especially with a running subplot involving the Millers meeting up with another RV traveling group, played well by the amusing Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn – but in-between those moments of scatological merriment exists a lot of bland and empty scenes that elicit little, if no, chuckles at all.  The overall script as well – which could have attained the level of a great sardonic satire in commentating on the nature of the family unit – really squanders its potential when – gosh darn it! – the fake family unit begins to care for each other like a real one.  Right.  Sure.  Uh-huh. 

Something needs to be said about Jennifer Aniston in the film.  She’s set-up as a stripper, which means that we’ll inevitably get a montage of her at some point doing a sensationally arousing striptease to the ogling enjoyment of not only the male characters in the film, but also the men in the theatre audience.  Aniston, to be fair, looks sensational, perhaps a bit too sensational for a down-on-her-luck aging stripper that’s facing monetary woes.  I have no problem, per se, with witnessing Aniston doing a strip tease in the film – which was heavily shown in the film’s pre-release publicity – but it shows the film’s tawdry level of desperation.  That, and Aniston already has played a character that used her sexuality – and to more darkly hysterical levels - in HORRIBLE BOSSES (also co-starring Sudeikis).  I’m not altogether sure what convinced her to journey down those same comedic waters again with her role here.   

WE’RE THE MILLERS is definitely funny in parts, but the sum of these agreeable parts are at odds with the rest of the film, which never really gels together to form a completely cohesive laugh riot.  That, and the film’s attempts at being a balls-to-the-wall raunch fest seems kind of disingenuous with the incredulous manner that the Millers kind of come together and bond as an actual family unit through the proceedings, which rings as utterly false.  More than anything, WE’RE THE MILLERS just seems to squander its comedic potential with its uneven scripting and lame brained plot developments.  Its attempts at marrying bawdiness with sweetness also comes off as forced when other comedies that have come before it have managed to marry those two tangents to much better effect.

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