We’re the Millers (2013)
Directed by: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Running time: 110 minutes
We’re the Millers has been a first for me in my film reviewing activities, as it was the first film that I have seen screened in a more critic-esque capacity than a public one. I saw it several days before it’s Australian release (as a guest of Warner Brothers no less!) and am thereby able to write and prepare my review in time for the film’s opening weekend! This is crazy talk for a small time blogger like me! Sadly I had the chance to see Neill Blomkamp’s new film Elysium (a film I would have been much more excited to write about) in a similar preview screening the following night but was unable to attend, so I suppose I’ll just have to write about that film when I see it at the same time as the rest of you. But I digress, on to the review!
Now Showing this week is We’re the Millers, a new comedy directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber (previously known for comedy classic Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story). David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) is a small time drug dealer who now owes a lot of money to his supplier after a youth gang robs his apartment. His supplier has offered him a chance to pay off his debt by instructing David to travel into Mexico and pick up a shipment of marijuana and bring it back across the border into the US. If he can pull this off, David will be debt free and also be paid one hundred thousand dollars! Out of options, David hatches a clever plan to get the drugs back over the border: he will disguise it as a family holiday. However, given David has no family, he convinces Rose (Jennifer Aniston) a stripper from his apartment building; Kenny (Will Poulter) a socially awkward teenager; and Casey (Emma Roberts) a delinquent teenage runaway to pose as his family so as to avoid suspicion. What could possibly go wrong?!
As I have said before, I find the best comedies are the ones in which ordinary people are convinced to commit some kind of criminal offense, and that then spiral out of control around them. I can safely say the We’re the Millers delivers on that front. David may be an accomplished drug dealer, but he has never been involved in drug smuggling of this magnitude and all the other members of his “family” are all newbies to the world of serious crime. The highlights of the film were most certainly the moments in which the characters were attempting to do something illegal and/or immoral and then needing to think on their feet in order to get out of the situation they have now put themselves in. The fake family angle helped further heighten the lunacy of these moments, as the protagonists were willing to do things that the other characters found very strange given they assumed that the Millers are a real family! I would say, however, that a lot of the comedic strengths of the film came from Jason Sudeikis playing the lead character. I imagine that the film was written with the knowledge of him playing David, and with him also being allowed some improvisational freedom with certain dialogue. I heard in an interview about the film that other actors such as Jason Bateman and Steve Buscemi were considered for the part before final casting, and I am certain we would have had a very different film should either of them (especially Buscemi!) was cast. As an actor, I would liken Sudeikis to how I described Seth Rogan in last week’s review: a comedian with a certain style of comedy that he is brought in to perform if the movie needs that kind of comedian. And We’re the Millers certainly benefited from his presence.
Having said all that, the comedy was far from perfect in my mind. While there were some good moments outside of the criminal shenanigans, none of them were really laugh out loud moments. The biggest example I would say would be the Jennifer Aniston strip tease scene that was featured so heavily in trailers (because of course it was!). While it was amusing to a degree, it was clearly there for the sole excuse of getting Aniston’s clothes off rather than it being the funniest thing they could come up with. But then again, as I just said, it was amusing so does that make it really a bad thing? I always find comedies the hardest kinds of films to review because unless they are just outright not funny, you can’t really say anything bad about them even though they don’t strike you as the greatest films ever made! I suppose one thing I found about We’re the Millers that I can’t say about many other comedies I’ve seen is that it wasn’t terribly predictable. It was often so crazily absurd that if I thought it was going somewhere, or that it wouldn’t go somewhere, the film would defy my expectations to great comedic effect. I guess that’s the mark of a good comedy, as best as I can come up with at the time being.
We’re the Millers made me laugh. It certainly is not the wittiest comedy around nor is it the most poignant but it was humourously engaging throughout. And that’s really what you want from a comedy in the end isn’t it? I had a good time watching it, and I reckon that most of you would have a good time watching it too. If you can get passed Jason Sudeikis being the same guy he always is, We’re the Millers is an enjoyable comedy. And comedies being the annoying to review things they are, there’s not much more I can say beyond that!
See you next time!