I’m not sure when it was that Hollywood decided that it would be best if all comedies were about people who are essentially assholes, but it certainly seems to be the trend. Often it completely ruins the film as it’s difficult to care about unpleasant people being horrible to one another, even if by the end they learn not to be such big assholes. At the beginning of We’re The Millers I was worried that would be the problem here, but almost to my surprise it began to win me over.
David (Jason Sudeikis) is a small-time pot dealer who gets in a spot of bother when he’s robbed, which mean he can’t give the rich and duplicitous Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms) his take. Brad tells David the only way to make things square is to go to Mexico and bring back a shipment of Marijuana. To do this David realises he needs a cover, so he enlists the help of stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), homeless hell-raiser Casey (Emma Roberts) and the rather dim-witted Kenny (Will Poulter) to pose as his straight-laced family – the Millers.
Despite the fact most of them don’t like each other an awful lot, they head off in an RV to get the pot. While they think the most difficult thing will be getting across the border, that pales in comparison to the likes of a Mexican drug dealer who thinks they’ve stolen his marijuana, a clingy RV family led by a DEA agent (Nick Offerman) and the machinations of the oily Brad Gurdlinger.
Initially it’s difficult to see how you’re meant to enjoy a movie about a man who deals drugs and is a dick to just about everyone he meets, especially as the whole thing is based around the audience hoping they can get an RV full of illegal narcotics into the US. However it begins to work thanks to the fact the script actually cares about the characters and gives them enough flesh for them not to just be a selection of unpleasant traits with the ability to snipe at one another. They may not always be nice, but you can see why they are like they are, and they’re normally not being nasty just for the sake of it.
It’s also pretty funny. Although there are only a couple of true belly laughs, there’s plenty to keep a smile on your face. It helps a lot that there are some great actors in the supporting roles, particularly Nick Offerman and the hilarious Kathryn Hahn as a chirpy RV couple who become sexually interested in the Millers, and Will Poulter as the innocent Kenny. Indeed it’s the fact you have him tagging along with the fake Miller clan that helps soften the hard edges of the others. There are some moment that border on trading on homophobia for humour, but it always stays on the right side of being offensive, instead finding the humour in men’s discomfort with it rather than the idea that being gay itself is something to laugh at.
By the end I was surprised how much I’d enjoyed it, especially considering how cynical the first 15 minutes made me.
The home entertainment edition includes both the theatrical version and a 10-minute longer Extended Cut. While this longer version does mean the movie threatens to outstay its welcome at 114 minutes, it’s still funny and includes a couple of pretty good sequences that didn’t make the original cut.
There’s also a decent selection of special features, including various short behind-the-scenes featurettes and a look at how the ‘outtakes’ were actually a deliberate part of the filming process, with the actors encouraged to improvise different responses. It all makes for a surprisingly good disc for a surprisingly funny movie.
Overall Verdict: Although the beginning of We’re The Millers seems like it’s going to be yet another comedy about assholes being unpleasant to one another, but it shows it has more heart and humour than that and turns out to be a great ride.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac