Jason Sudeikis as David Clark
Jennifer Aniston as Rose O’Reilly
Will Poulter as Kenny Rossmore
Emma Roberts as Casey Mathis
Ed Helms as Brad Gurdlinger
Nick Offerman as Don Fitzgerald
Kathryn Hahn as Edie Fitzgerald
Molly C. Quinn as Melissa Fitzgerald
Tomer Sisley as Pablo Chacon
Matthew Willig as One-Eye
Luis Guzmán as Mexican Cop
Thomas Lennon as Rick Nathanson
Mark L. Young as Scottie P.
Ken Marino as Todd – Strip Club Owner
Laura-Leigh as Kymberly
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
Small-time drugdealer David Clark (Jason Sudekis) has gotten himself into a fix with his distributor (Ed Helms) and is forced to travel down to Mexico to act as a mule to bring back a large shipment of marijuana. Realizing what would happen if he gets caught at the border, Clark recruits Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a stripper who lives in his building, to act as his wife and a couple of kids to help create the illusion of them being a family on an innocent vacation to Mexico. What could possibly go wrong?
With any comedy, whether it’s good or bad, high concept or low brow, there’s usually a point where you can figure out where it’s going, or at least you think you do, and in the case of “We’re the Millers,” that point comes fairly early on, literally the moment drugdealer David Clark meets one of his married friends on the street and for a brief second ponders what it would be like to have his own family. That moment is fleeting, because Dave is a fairly selfish guy, basically just wanting to continue selling pot and making money. When he’s robbed by some street kids, Dave’s forced into take a risky job smuggling drugs across the Mexican border and comes up with the brilliant idea of pulling together a group of similarly-damaged individuals to pretend they’re a family on vacation.
As with any journey or road comedy, the things you see while traveling to your destination are often far more memorable and “We’re the Millers” is so irreverently and consistently funny that it’s easily forgiven for telegraphing its motives so early on. Once the set-up is readily out of the way in the first 15 or 20 minutes, you’re quickly pulled into the idea of this mismatched foursome trying to pass themselves off as a makeshift suburban family and that’s where the movie generally offer the most laughs as they pile into an RV full of marijuana and try to drive it across the border.
Much of the reason why the movie works is due to how well Jason Sudeikis has honed what he does to the point where he can make anything he says funny rather than just relying on written jokes, as he seemingly is able to tap into an unlimited resource of ad-libs and asides that keeps things moving at a good pace. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Jennifer Aniston’s or not, there’s no denying she has a way of committing to a role like the smart stripper Rose that really works well with what Sudeikis does, but the real standout has to be “Son of Rambow” star Will Poulter, who actually plays off his awkward teens so well as the virginal Kenny that he becomes the heart of the movie.
“Dodgeball” director Rawson Thurber’s return to comedy proves to be a welcome one as he creates a great space for his cast, knowing exactly how much room to give them to play up each scene for the best laughs. The movie never gives you much of a chance to tire of the dynamics between the core foursome, since they’re constantly being thrown into situations with new characters, whether it’s Luiz Guzman’s Mexican cop looking for a bribe or the movie’s biggest scene stealers, Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn, who take things so far and beyond as a couple the family meets on their trip one might wonder whether a spin-off movie might be in order. The movie’s only real weak point in terms of casting is Ed Helms’ portrayal of Dave’s wealthy but shady supplier who we cut back to every once in a while to see what sort of indulgences he’s up to. It probably was an easy gig for Helms but not a particularly well-developed character.
The problem with many comedies these days is trying to keep some surprises for the actual movie and in the case of “We’re the Millers,” a lot of the major beats and situations have been used to sell the movie in trailers and commercials. Fortunately, there are more than a few moments that end up being even funnier in the movie as well as one particularly hilarious moment that you won’t see coming.
Eventually we’re back on track to the story and you’ll already have guessed that the Mexican cartel eventually catches up with the family, Aniston takes off her clothes to distract them, and the action starts to pick up. The last act might not offer too many surprises for the astute who already know the general formula for these kinds of movies, but things are generally pulled together in a satisfying way. And even with the amount of foul language and jokes about anal sex, there’s still a fairly heartwarming message at the film’s core where it never feels as mean or snarky as other similar movies, and that’s a very hard thing to do indeed.
The Bottom Line:
There isn’t a ton of heavy thinking involved with the high concept premise behind “We’re the Millers,” but it works better than one might expect and ultimately it’s a winning comedy that leaves you wanting to see more of the Millers.