Take The Joneses, remove the social commentary, and put the fake family on a road trip and you essentially have We’re the Millers, the latest comedy by director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball). This is a more comedic affair, however, with raunchy and gross-out humor taking the place of any sort of intelligence. If you’re looking for a highbrow comedy, you’ll want to keep searching; if you don’t mind laughing at some dumb, profane, or gross things, this is a movie you need to see.
Luckily for me, I often like these types of movies, and We’re the Millers is no exception. In fact, with the amount I laughed during this film, I’ll probably pay to go see it again. The jokes are constant and remain funny throughout, the biggest laugh-out-loud moments are nicely scattered, the cast is game for anything the script throws at them, and there’s some heart to the whole production. There’s also a significant amount of plot, meaning that unlike many other comedies, it doesn’t often feel like a compilation of loosely connected sketches.
The plot involves a drug dealer, David (Jason Sudeikis), being robbed and losing all of his money and drugs. He owes thousands of dollars to his higher-up (Ed Helms), and due to this debt is roped into smuggling a “smidge” of marijuana from Mexico. To do this, he hires a local stripper, Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a nerdy neighbor kid, Kenny (Will Poulter), and a runaway, Casey (Emma Roberts), to pose as a fake family, under the belief that it’ll be easier to sneak across the border.
To much surprise, most of the film doesn’t take place in Mexico. In fact, the smuggling of drugs across the border winds up being one of the easiest parts of David’s mission. Getting everyone to work together, trying to ward off the suspicion of an actual RVing family, the Fitzgeralds (Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn and Molly C. Quinn), and being chased by a Mexican drug lord (Tomer Sisley) wind up all being bigger problems. They lead to really funny situations, as well as a few very uncomfortable ones. Let the awkward feeling you will have fuel your laughter.
Without wanting to ruin any of the jokes, suffice to say that some of them will make you laugh right away, some of them will make you want to look away, some will make you clap because the filmmakers had the audacity to put that type of image on-screen, and some will take some time setting up, only to succeed so well when the punchline hits. The few misfires don’t linger, and save for a couple of scenes in the middle where the jokes stop entirely for some sweet family bonding, there’s no dragging to the pacing.
A surprisingly large number of people will be seeing We’re the Millers simply because it’s a leading role for Jennifer Aniston, and there really haven’t been a lot of those as of late. She’s not generally a good actress — which might be why her film career is loaded with terrible, terrible movies — and while I wouldn’t say she’s worth seeing here, watching the transition from streetwise stripper to “mom” character is kind of fun.
The other actors are better. Jason Sudekis is a funny actor and he sells a lot of the jokes that otherwise wouldn’t work. Emma Roberts’ playing the profane teen is a good enough joke in and of itself. Perhaps the best character of the “family” is Will Poulter’s, who plays the virgin-nerd stereotype perfectly. Each actor gets at least a few moments to shine. and a few scenes which are memorable because of them. There’s also some decent chemistry here, in particular between the two older actors and the two younger ones.
Where the movie falls flat in its attempt to bring the family together as something more than a fake. This has to happen in these types of movies, right? They have to bond, have a fallout, reconcile, and so on. I almost wish that wouldn’t happen. It would be a surprise, and it would eliminate the only pacing problems We’re the Millers has, as well as any false tension; the film had enough genuine tension that we didn’t need the obligatory fight and make-up. But that’s a small problem in a sea of hilarity.
We’re the Millers is a truly hilarious movie, assuming you’re not opposed to lowbrow comedy. I’m not, and I had a lot of fun as a result. The jokes are steady and mostly hits, the characters are played well by their actors, there isn’t too much forced sentimentality, and the whole film is a good time. This is the most I’ve laughed at a straight-up comedy in quite a long time (likely since last year’s Pitch Perfect, which I love), so take that as a recommendation and go see it. You’ll be glad you did.