Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
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.
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