We’re the Millers Review

American comedies for the last few decades have commonly been fuelled by the basest of desires – sex, if you’re a teenager, or money, if you’re anyone else. We’re the Millers is pushed along by both, and is at least fairly unusual in that its central cast crosses the age demographics… even if this is a family film by definition, not by content. At least, you have to imagine a film where the “son” is taught how to kiss by his “sister” and his “mother”, only to be discovered by the object of his affections, is not exactly looking to be wholesome.

Like many Hollywood comedies of recent years, We’re the Millers’ MacGuffin is drugs – an enormous shipment of them, at that, which veteran dealer David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) is tasked with bringing across the Mexican border after a burglary leaves his owing a debt to his boss (Ed Helms). Dejected, a brainwave comes for David in the form of a wholesome family in a giant campervan who turn a New York policeman’s anger into a helping hand before his eyes – he needs a family, and a camper with lots of storage, to truck that load of marijuana over the border. Neighbour kid Kenny (Will Poulter, Son of Rambow) is all too happy to help out, while surly Casey (Emma Roberts) could use a bed, and David’s stripper neighbour Rose (Jennifer Aniston) could use the dollars after quitting her job on being asked to sleep with the clientele. Renaming themselves the Millers, and putting on their cheesiest smiles, the makeshift family fly down and pick up the drugs, the camper, and a bunch of Mexicans hiding underneath it; thanks to the latter, they’re over the border in no time.

That’s the only real surprise in We’re the Millers – that the four (!) screenwriters don’t seem interested in Mexican hijinks. Half an hour in, you’re left wondering how on God’s green earth the rest of the 110 minute running time will be filled in. Supporting comic superstars Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) and Kathryn Hahn (Wanderlust; Girls) soon mosey on-screen in a camper of their own, the vivid image of what David and Rose are pretending to be, and the pair work their hardest in a couple of largely thankless roles as they attempt some swinging action in a tent and tow the Millers’ camper down the highway. These rather crude passages are preferable to the lamer dramatic stakes of the family’s pursuit by Pablo Chacon (Tomer Sisley), the drug baron whose drugs the Millers have inadvertently stolen. It’s this unfortunate plotline that gives Aniston the chance to perform the most unintentionally unsexy striptease routine since… well, possibly ever. Jen’s maintained her looks but she was never a bootyshaker – never mind the shower she steps into, because this is just embarrassing. Someone needs demoting in the casting department.

Sudeikis, a Saturday Night Live alumni who’s rather sneakily become a leading man over the past few years, makes for a genial enough one here, though of the main cast, he has what’s probably the least interesting role. Roberts wisely avoids any attempts at comedy whatsoever, her disinterested, louche figure funny just in context, and her keen attraction to a dunderheaded fairground worker is brightly done. Poulter, faultlessly slipping into awkward, horny American teenager mode, gets the brunt of the slapstick, but few would be so game to actually let their junk be revealed to the world.

An audience member of even limited intelligence will be able to tell where We’re the Millers is headed from the moment they see the motley crew assembled on the eerie bluescreen poster. The pleasures are intended to lie in the journey, but there’s no real sense of how to pace this one, as it shudders to a halt on several occasions and displays all too openly how this bunch never really do fit together; you won’t need a Jennifer Aniston striptease to be sure they’re not a real family. Although it might be worth seeing that, because outside of a moment in the credits I won’t spoil, it’s probably the funniest part of the film.

About The Author

Born in Birmingham and now living in London, David took a love of cinema through two degrees, capping them off with a dissertation on Julianne Moore. (He likes to think he helped her win the Oscar.) He currently works in commercial advertising at Hearst UK and watches as many films as he can in his spare time. You can frequently find him beholden to the visage of Jessica Chastain.

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