Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Ed Helms, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn
Written by: Bob Fisher, Steve Faber, Sean Anders and John Morris
Running Time: 110 mins
Release date: 23rd August 2013
The road trip is a comedy staple of Hollywood. There are hundreds of them, some good some not so. From It Happened One Night to National Lampoon’s vacation to Planes Trains and Automobile, the journey across America is thwart with dangers and perils so bad, you’d never want to do it yourself. So now comes an interesting new road trip, We’re The Millers in which a group of misfits pretend to be a family and smuggle drugs from Mexico. A premise that has loads of promise but delivers very little.
David Clark is a small time drug dealer working for his former college friend, Brad Gurdlinger, who seems to be reaping the benefits of David’s selling. When David is robbed, Brad gives him a way to pay him back: by going to Mexico and returning with, what he calls, a smig of pot. Unable to escape the job opportunity, David’s next concern is how to enter the country and return unnoticed. He comes up with an idea, the All-American family travelling in a RV. Convincing his neighbour, an aging stripper called Rose, Kevin, a kid who lives int eh apartment building and Cassie, a homeless girl, to become The Millers, they group take off and find entering easy. The small amount of drugs becomes two tonnes but the real journey begins when they try to return.
So we’ve seen most of the situations the odd-ball family find themselves in before; being chased by angry drug dealing Mexicans, meeting up with a squeaky-clean family, getting into all kinds of off-road antics and for the most part it moves along at an amiable rate. The trouble is it relies far too heavily with jokes about sex, body parts and embarrassing situations and when it starts to go down a much darker road, it becomes fearful and throws in a pile of overly sentimental mush to compensate, as if they are to frighten to even think about that route.
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber and his four writers have some neat ideas and some of them actually work but for the whole they keep pulling back, as if the whole thing has been written not just by the team but by a huge committee. It gets increasingly frustrating when they could have avoided another penis joke or “you guys are my family now” attitudes.
It also doesn’t help that the characters just don’t seem real. If you are going to have a stripper, a drug dealer and a homeless girl with attitude thrown together, then make them those characters, make them tough and brutally honest. Just because they use the F-word in almost every other line doesn’t make them the characters they are.
Jennifer Aniston, who ever since Horrible Bosses, can’t seem to keep her clothes on, plays Rose the stripper and while she does look amazing for a woman in her late 40s, it’s still Jennifer Aniston and we can’t escape that. She does nothing new then what we have seen before. Jason Sudeikis, who normally plays the annoying jerk, plays it here as David but you wonder who would buy drugs from this guy, even if his hair is a little ruffled. The worse culprit is Emma Roberts as Cassie. Never once do you believe she is a homeless girl and it doesn’t help that the writers have given her a character who gives the finger whenever she is in a bad mood.
The only person who delivers a solid, almost believable character is British actor Will Poluter as the hapless, dim-witted Kevin. His performance is pitch perfect and literally steals the film from everyone. He has two of the funniest scenes (one involving a spider and the other, a faultless rendition of TLC’s Waterfalls) and the only one who comes across as creating something real.
Then we have the nauseating ending which is so sickly sweet, you’ll feel like vomiting as soon as it happens. This is followed “outtakes”. I use the word loosely because even these come across as being false and made up. Plus at 110 minutes, it is far too long and runs out of steam way before the end.
If you want some very undemanding laughs (although most of them are in the trailer) then you’ll be happy to sit through We’re The Millers but when Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa has just been released and shows what you can do with comedy when the script is fearless and not afraid to fail, then you will see that this is a huge, almighty disappointment. The idea is there and if done without fear could have been a whole lot better.