We’re the Millers: “family” road trip gone wild

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When trailers for We’re the Millers started popping up, nothing about the film really struck me. I appreciated the fact that Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, and Ed Helms were in it, but beyond that I didn’t give it much of a second thought. But when a couple of friends came to town and we found ourselves with some spare time, we took the opportunity to catch a matinee showing of this late summer comedy. Because why not?

Unfortunately, I can’t say that this is the breakout comedy of the summer. For me, that’s still This Is the End hands down (read my review of that here). But We’re the Millers definitely has a fair share of laughable moments, a pretty solid cast, and a fun story.

Synopsis: “A veteran pot dealer creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico.” Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.

The Good: The “family.” The four actors who make up this group are all solid comedians, and they work well together. Sudeikis’s character, pot-dealing David, has the potential to be a very unlikeable guy—he’s selfish, greedy, and often plain old mean. But Sudeikis instills him with wit and charm that rise above the meanness of his character, so you can’t help but like him. However, as tough-as-nails stripper, Rose, Aniston is actually much easier to warm up to. As most of Aniston’s characters do, Rose has a sweetness to her, but she doesn’t put up with David’s crap, and she’s often the one to save the day when the gang’s in a tough spot. Then there’s the kids—Emma Roberts as street urchin Casey and Will Poulter as awkward teen Kenny. Roberts (who, fun fact, is Julia Roberts’ niece) is appropriately snarky and rough around the edges, but I’d say the breakout star of the movie is definitely Poulter. Sweet, goofy Kenny is often the butt of the joke, but he puts up with it all so enthusiastically that you just love him to pieces. It’s fun to see how these lost souls fit together, initially forming a fake family but bonding much like a real one. Favorite scene: The family jams to a TLC hit, and Kenny gets a surprising (and hilarious) solo.

The Bad: Though the family togetherness is nice, toward the end it comes off as a bit corny and forced. I realize spending time with people in an RV is bound to bring everybody closer together—both physically and in terms of bonding—but I just don’t buy that these characters would warm up to each other in a matter of days, especially given how frosty they are at the start. Likewise, I don’t believe that the characters would change so much either. Rose, for example, practically goes from cheap stripper to mother of the year—a change that I have a hard time believing even when acted out by a comedy veteran like Aniston. The lack of believability aside, I found many of the funny moments a little lackluster. I chuckled, sure, but this isn’t really a gut-busting comedy, which is quite possibly due to the predictability and overall “meh” quality of the story. Least favorite scene: Ok, this isn’t a scene or even a moment, but can we just take some time to talk about Ed Helms’ character?  As Brad Gurdlinger, Helms plays a flamboyant, obnoxiously rich drug supplier. Potentially hilarious, right? But Helms as Brad is just…awkward. Maybe the character was poorly developed or maybe he didn’t have enough screen time—I don’t know. Outside of this film, I’m cool with Helms, but this character was plain annoying.

To Sum It Up: We’re the Millers has its moments—funny ones, outrageous ones, even touching ones. The premise is somewhat unique, and the four main actors are all great. But this is not the best comedy of the summer. Plenty of chuckle-worthy material, but very few moments (if any) that are wildly hilarious. I enjoyed this film and I think many other comedy lovers would, too, but I’d advise you to utilize matinee prices for this one.

My Grade: B-

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