We’re The Millers Review

We’re The Millers

It’s not easy working out what you want to be when you grow up, as the new Jason Sudeikis shaped film We’re The Millers amply demonstrates.

The film centres around eternal adolescent and unlikely-looking small time drug dealer, David Clark (Sudeikis), who owes his unlikely-looking drug boss a large debt after getting robbed by some unlikely-looking street thugs.

To repay the debt, Clark is tasked with smuggling a smidge and a half of weed across the Mexican border, and reduces his chances of getting caught by enlisting next door neighbour and unlikely-looking stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), two unlikely-looking down and out neighbourhood kids, Kenny and Casey (Will Poulter and Emma Roberts) as well as a caravan to make it look like he’s on a proper family vacation.

Unlikely-looking was undoubtedly the heading of the casting director’s memo because everybody in the film is simply far too glossy and clean cut to look as poor or as threatening as they’re meant to. From Roberts channelling Avril Lavigne as the homeless Casey, to Aniston sporting a neat bosom and Kate Middleton manicure where there should have been Jordan-sized jugs and three inch stripper talons.

Even the supposedly deadly Mexican drug dealer looks like he could be a Dolce and Gabbana model. The inevitable make-over scene therefore comes as a blessed relief, ensuring the audience can get back to the business of watching a warm-hearted family comedy about a very dysfunctional family.

And this is the problem with We’re The Millers.

Like its characters, director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s film suffers from something of an identity crisis. The twin themes of drug smuggling and flawed families suggests We’re The Millers dreams of being an edgy black humour, but its casting choices, safe jokes and predictable ending are 100% feel-good rom-com.

Making a comedy about the seedier side of human nature is always a dirty business and you either need to compromise the authenticity of your drug-dealers and strippers and aim for a Hollywood blockbuster, like The Hangover, or commit fully to the subject matter and settle for a cult classic, a la the Cohen brothers.

We’re The Millers can’t decide which route to take and ends up with a middle of the road comedy, where its characters’ troubled backstories sit uneasily alongside flashes of dark humour.

Kenny seems only mildly perturbed by the fact that his mother went out for a drink a week ago and hasn’t returned, even though she could be lying in a ditch somewhere. Why is Casey homeless? And really, smuggling cocaine across the Mexican border would have been a lot more realistic and treacherous than weed.

We’re The Millers saving grace is Sudeikis’ charisma, coupled with just enough good jokes to distract an audience from some giant plot-holes and questionable casting choices.

A few truly cringe-worthy scenes aside, most memorably Aniston’s gratuitous strip-tease that was no doubt included for the sole purpose of keeping the marketing department happy, the cast has enough chemistry to keep you rooting for its predictably happy ending.

A decent road-trip comedy that hits a few speed bumps, We’re The Millers’ biggest failing is it can’t decide what it wants to be.

Karen Yossman

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Dates ‘n stuff

August 2013