Rawson Marshall Thurber’s (director of the 2004 comedy “Dodgeball”) “We’re the Millers” is a raunchy comedy that offers a slight twist on the family vacation comedy subgenre, and while there are some laughs to be had the movie isn’t particularly innovative or memorable. As the title suggests, there is in fact a Miller family but (and here’s the twist) they’re not a real family, and instead of going on vacation they’re going to Mexico to smuggle weed.
The Millers consist of all your typical comedy movie losers and outcasts. The ringleader is Dave Clark (Jason Sudeikis) a small time weed dealer who gets his stash stolen from him. To avoid getting whacked by his drug dealer Brad Gurdlinger (an immensely underused Ed Helms), he must go to Mexico, pick up a shipment of weed and bring it back. This is a risky task and a beaded longhaired loser like Dave won’t be able to get the weed across the border by himself, so he needs to pretend like he’s a straight laced, dweeb father bringing his straight laced, dweeb family on vacation. He enlists the help of Rose (Jennifer Anniston), a stripper who’s not happy with her life, to be his wife; Kenny (Will Poulter), the dorky virgin nineteen year old who lives in the same building as Dave, to be his son; and Casey (Emma Roberts), a runaway living on the street, to be his daughter.
The rest of the movie plays out pretty much the way you’d expect it to. There’s an awful lot of bickering between the artificial family members (some of which is amusing). There are a few close calls (one at the border and one involving a creepy Mexican cop) and of course their already risky task of bringing the weed back over becomes even more dangerous when they find out that they’re actually stealing from a vicious drug dealer named Pablo Chacon (Tomer Sisley). And, of course they have a couple of encounters with a nutso family whose actually on vacation (led by “Parks and Recreation’s” Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn, who end up being the two funniest people in the entire film) and of course they get into some funny and awkward situations.
The movie’s much funnier than it should be. To his credit, Thurber doesn’t let a majority of the major comedic set pieces go on too long (to the point where they’re not funny anymore). For example, there’s one amusing scene that involves the two sets of parents swinging that could have been absolutely terrible (if it had gone on longer) but Thurber knows how long to keep it going and not letting it overstay its welcome. Sudeikis (of SNL fame) is a solid comedic lead that fits right into his slacker character. Anniston and Roberts also make the best of their characters even though they’re not given much to work with. The female characters are by far the weakest in the picture. And Poulter has his moments even if you can see his character arc a mile away.
Speaking of that, you can practically see every plot point, every turn, coming from a mile away; the constant bickering, the close calls, the love interest for Kenny, the falling out between the “family” members followed by their making up. That’s the major problem with “We’re the Millers.” There aren’t any surprises, which might not have been such a problem if the movie was funnier, but even the laughs are inconsistent. For every funny set piece there’s one that falls flat. In addition, the bad guys are completely bland and exist only because the story calls for bad guys.
“We’re the Miller’s” is much better than it looks, although that’s not saying much. I’m not entirely sure if it’s worth the price of a ticket, it may be better to just wait for Redbox. You won’t have a miserable time by any means but it will fade quickly from memory.