Debt ridden local Denver drug dealer David (Jason Sudekis) takes on a job from his obscenely rich boss to bring a ‘smidge’ of marijuana back over the border from Mexico in exchange for a large pay packet. Seeing as travelling on his own would look a little suspect, David enlists the help of a kid who lives in his building (Will Poulter), a homeless girl (Emma Roberts), and a stripper (Jennifer Aniston) to pose as his son, daughter and wife respectively to make it look less like a drug smuggling operation and more like a family holiday.
It’s a solid set up that provides a lot of opportunities for fish out of water laughs and a bucket load of awkward situations. Sudekis is adept at playing the (relatively) straight man to this band of misfits, and gets a lot of laughs from his exasperated ‘father figure.’ Jennifer Aniston once again gets the chance to distance herself from Friends even if the fact that just seeing Rachel from Friends swearing is the only joke she gets. But it’s still funny seeing her playing against type.* It’s Poulter though who is the films breakout star, whether it’s singing all the words (all of them) to Waterfalls or being taught how to kiss, his naïve Kenny is the film’s secret weapon. The only character that doesn’t really make an impact is Emma Roberts’ daughter character, Kacey, who gets a few good lines but gets lost amongst the other more talented comedy performers. And special mention goes to Nick Offerman and Katherine Hahn as a pair of super happy holiday goers that the Millers run into along their travels.
It veers from situation to situation but happily never feels like a series of interconnected sketches, and the character development though unoriginal feels genuine enough for you to care for the ‘family’ come the conclusion. Towards the end the film feels a little stretched out with an extended sojourn at a fairground that feels like one stop too far and a subplot involving Kacey seemingly thrown in because she hasn’t had anything to do in a while.
Funny as the actors are, the plot doesn’t go anywhere new. You always know that the cynical Sudekis will grow to love his surrogate family by the end, that desperate virgin Kenny who’s never been kissed will become more confident, etc. Come the close everyone will have learned A Very Important Lesson, but that doesn’t make the journey any less fun. If the success or failure of a comedy is measured by whether or not it made you laugh, We’re The Millers more than succeeds. Gross out comedy, out and out wacky situations, a handful of awkward scenarios and some brilliant genuinely well written back and forth dialogue all add up to give the film more than enough laugh out loud moments.
And it has the single best breaking of the fourth wall I’ve seen in a long time.
Filthy, foul mouthed and very very funny, We’re The Millers is another success for Dodgeball director Marshall Rawson Thurber; a comedy that filled with gags, a decent plot and most importantly likable characters, a trait that’s been sadly lacking in comedies of late. And stay during the credits for a few choice outtakes.
* Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention the striptease scene. Suffice to say, it’s awesome.
Review by Jonathan Cardwell.
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