Movie Review #700
New Line Cinema presents…
Slap Happy Productions
Distributor: Warner Bros.
Spoken Languages: English – Spanish
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber. Produced by Chris Bender, Vincent Newman, Tucker Tooley, and Happy Walters. Screenplay by Bob Fisher & Steve Faber and Sean Anders & John Morris. Story by Bob Fisher & Steve Faber.
Rated R by the MPAA — frequent profanity, sexual content, drug material, brief/graphic nudity (extended cut also rated R). Runs 1 hour, 50 minutes (extended cut runs 8 minutes longer). Premiered at Traverse City Film Festival on August 3, 2013. Wide release in the USA on August 7, 2013.
Starring Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, and Will Poulter. Also starring Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn, Molly Quinn, Tomer Sisley, Matthew Willig, Luis Guzmán, and Brendan Hunt. Featuring uncredited cameo appearances by Andrea Alcorn, James Alcorn, Laura Avery, Rachel Brewer, Christian Daniels, Amanda Fresquez, Rebecca Harran, Cathy Mattson, Monica Molina, Joe Montanti, Robb Moon, Kathy Walton Pulley, Ed Ricker, Ellie Rodriguez, Nick Thies, and Steven Ray Byrd.
“We’re the Millers” is a horrible, horrible movie, yet I feel neither shame nor hesitance in excusing it as entertaining. The humor was so consistent that I didn’t have to worry about pitying any failed attempts at comedy; I was guffawing instead.
I do pity the film, though: I’ve slapped it with two “horrible”s and its aim is the exact opposite. Clearly, the intent was to make the numero uno of dysfunctional family movies. It’s the establishment of character and story that ventures further than needed. Really, a ridiculous story doesn’t guarantee as many laughs as some filmmakers tend to believe. Spanning from the American Southwest into Mexico, the tale covers a grab bag of four neighboring people who have to act as a cheery, happy-go-lucky family.
This is the plan concocted by the “father” (Jason Sudeikis), so that he can smuggle drugs out of Mexico and keep his business running. But it’s not just him. All four of the “family” members have a screw loose. He’s a drug dealer in desperation. His “wife” (Jennifer Aniston) is a stripper who takes her job way too seriously. Their “daughter,” rescued from the projects, has no respect for authority, as if the drama queen in her isn’t too unnerving for them. And they can be sure that their “son” was dropped on his head as a young’n without checking with a doctor.
That. That story is a joke in and of itself. As the premise for “We’re the Millers”, it happens to fuel countless jokes. But still, given that ludicrous story, how in pluperfect hell are we supposed to believe the inevitable ending: that these people will get used to posing as a family, and they’ll eventually start to naturally interact like a family? Should I reiterate who these four are?
Not much in the screenplay gives the remotest face of reality. I mean, this basic setup technically could happen, once in seven or eight blue moons. All four familial asses are saved time and again by something that could probably happen when pigs fly. Character development and situational approach are often as realistic as some of the short films I would produce and direct in the fifth grade. Even the dialogue is unrealistic. I found the profanity excessive, more than likely because it was there just because. “The Wolf of Wall Street” was the record-breaker at over 500 F-bombs, and I didn’t mind. I minded the reported 97 in “We’re the Millers”.
(I might as well mention that pacing is horrendous, too.)
But there’s a saving grace to all of that. Not one of the four writers of “We’re the Millers” know how to write a convincing film. They do have jokes, and that’s what makes this entertaining at all costs. “We’re the Millers” unravels with side-splitting hilarity. The production is anemic in anything but its humor. The performances do save it in part, which is a given for the humor’s own success. Emma Roberts, especially, is an enthusiastic standout as the homeless “daughter.” It’s worth the warning that the humor does falter once, near the end. An extended scene that is the grossest thing in a hard-R comedy since that one scene in “Borat”. Remember how much you laughed in that movie? Every rose does indeed have its thorn.
WE’RE THE MILLERS IS AVAILABLE ON BLU-RAY AND DVD.