I don't know how someone could watch WE'RE THE MILLERS and not laugh. Okay, I guess I can see how it's possible. People find different things funny; humor is subjective; I get it. But MILLERS feels like it throws a little bit of everything at its audience, and I thought quite a bit of it stuck the landing. Believe me, no one was more surprised than I was at how much I laughed at this film. Certainly neither of its stars--Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston--have perfect track records when it comes to making a solid comedy. They both require something resembling a decent script to even broach the possibility of quality. Both seem to rely on formula to carry the day. But strangely enough, when they are allowed cut loose and be as lewd and crude as they wanna be together, it's funny.
Sudeikis plays David Clark, a guy who has been dealing drugs (mostly pot) since he was in college. He makes a decent living at it, but when a particularly large amount of cash that he owns his connection is stolen from him, he is forced to face the drug kingpin (played with psychotic levity by Ed Helms) and make amends, hopefully without getting his ass kicked. Helms' solution is to send David down to Mexico in an RV to pick up a large stash of pot from drug lord Pablo Chacon (Tomer Sisley) and bring it back over the border undetected.
David is smart enough to know that a guy driving solo in an RV is a bust waiting to happen, so he hires three other people he vaguely knows to pose as the Miller family. Aniston plays Rose, a stripper at a club David deals in, Emma Roberts plays Casey, a street kid from David's neighborhood (saving her from getting attacked is what got David robbed in the first place, so she owes him), and Son of Rambow's Will Poulter plays neighbor kid Kenny, whose mother seems to have vanished and he just wants someone to hang out with. The kid is a special kind of harmless freak, but damn near everything that comes out of his mouth is funny. The trailers for WE'RE THE MILLERS love to show a certain sequence in which Kenny is bitten by a spider in a sensitive place, but that isn't even is best moment.
Most of the movie is a variation on the road-trip comedy. The Millers grab the pot and manage to get it over the border without too much hassle, but once their back in the U.S., their adventures begin, especially after they are befriended by off-duty DEA Agent Don Fitzgerald (Nick Offerman), his wife Edie (the always-perfect Kathryn Hahn), and their daughter Melissa ("Castle's" Molly Quinn), who just happens to make a nice potential love interest for the virginal Kenny. The mishaps of the road trip portion of the film are hit and miss. Most of the interactions with the Fitzgeralds are great--an attempted wife-swapping encounter is particularly awkward and hilarious--but having Chacon and his enforcers chase the Millers across the country felt hugely forced. The dangers of transporting that much pot in an RV are enough that we don't need stereotypical villains blocking the path.
But where MILLERS really falls apart is when it gets sentimental about its makeshift, fake dysfunctional family. The fun things about these people is that they play up the familiar bond when they are around other people, but when they're alone, they can't stand each other and have no qualms about verbally attacking each other whenever they get a chance. However, as the film goes on, the sap creeps into the seams and makes us try to care about keeping this group together after the pot is delivered. Each member of of this "family" is alone in the world, and they seem to function well together, with Rose even taking on the role as matriarch when her "kids" need a life lesson.
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (DODGEBALL, THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH) and four screenwriters (!) can't collectively generate enough conviction to the material to really let it go where it needs to be to make the film a social satire about racial profiling or the war on drugs. Instead what we get is soft-peddling of any cutting-edge topics and general transition from raunchy comedy to four lessons in redemption and togetherness. Jesus Christ, what don't they just start a drum circle while they're at it? Throw in a few weak cameos by the likes of Thomas Lennon and Ken Marino, and one marginally funny one by Luis Guzmán. Sudeikis (he of the School of Wise-Ass) and Aniston are okay together; Poulter and Roberts are often better. Collectively, WE'RE THE MILLERS gets a barely passing grade because I remember quite a few big laughs between the bouts of silence and shame.
There are so many better films out there right now, that I find it tough to recommend WE'RE THE MILLERS, but if you're the type of moviegoer that is addicted to mainstream releases, you could do worse. And like I said, you'll probably laugh more than you think you will.