We’re The Millers: A road trip comedy that is actually pretty funny

Published 11:05 am Wednesday, August 21, 2013

by Lauren Bradshaw

We’re The Millers, the latest in the “raunchy comedy” genre, is a surprisingly funny take on a road trip movie. Usually, I can’t stand road trip movies. Be it this year’s Identity Thief, or 2006’s RV, I try to steer clear of anything involving comedic actors and the open road. After all, these types of “comedies” are hardly ever funny and basically all consist of the same general plot. Thankfully, We’re The Millers has just enough humor to make it entertaining. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (Dodgeball) even saves some of the funniest scenes for the movie and doesn’t spoil them all in the trailer, a sin that typically plagues bad comedies. In fact, some of the film’s most cringe-worthy moments, which probably couldn’t be shown in the trailer (like Kenny’s kissing lesson), are some of the funniest parts of the movie.

Of course We’re The Millers has its issues. For one, I could never quite figure out whether I liked or hated the main character David (Jason Sudeikis). His jerk tendencies leave little to be desired, and when he finally starts to get his act together, it is too little too late. Secondly, by the third act the film’s interesting premise devolves into a predictable comedy that could have at least fifteen minutes edited out. Even the villains are painfully stereotypical and unnecessary to the plot points I enjoyed. Instead of battling Mexican drug lords (yawn), I wanted “the Millers” to face more situations where they have to keep their drug-trafficking a secret from U.S. officials. Conflict with drug lords is all too common in Hollywood plots these days. It would have been interesting to have the characters face a different type of “villain”, in the form of a law enforcement officer. Although these problems do hurt the film overall, they don’t take away from the fact that I was entertained by the film and would certainly recommend it for anyone looking for a mindless comedy.

As road trip comedies go, We’re The Millers’ premise starts out pretty interesting. David is a small-time drug dealer in Denver, who has never quite grown up. He sold marijuana in college and hasn’t stopped since. One fateful night, he and his young neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter) try to prevent Casey (Emma Roberts), a homeless scamp, from getting mugged. In the process, David is victimized himself and all of his drugs and money are stolen. This does not make his boss, Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms) happy.

In order to repay Brad for the stolen drugs and money, David agrees to traffic a “smidge” of marijuana across the border between Mexico and the United States. To decrease the risk of getting his vehicle searched by Border Patrol, David develops an ingenious plan. He will create a fake family, the Millers, who look so average and wholesome, no one would ever expect they would be involved in nefarious activities. This camouflage will allow him to get over the border undetected. David quickly enlists the help of Casey and Kenny to play his children, but now he needs someone to play his wife. Cue Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a down-on-her-luck stripper who has just quit her job but needs to pay rent. How convenient. David agrees to give Rose a pretty decent payday as long as she helps him return to Colorado with the drugs. Through all of the ensuing drama and spider bites, the group of mismatched individuals slowly learns to get along and work together as a family… a family with hundreds of pounds of marijuana in their RV.

The cast of We’re The Millers does a fantastic job of bringing the funny. Like in her last two movies, Jennifer Aniston has once again ditched her PG-13 girl-next-door image to instead focused on being an R-rated comedienne. That is fine with me because regardless of her preferred movie rating, Aniston knows how to bring the laughs and I appreciate that she never takes herself too seriously. Like Sandra Bullock, Aniston is not afraid to “go there” comedically, and I think that says a lot about her as an actress. Roberts and Poulter were also great and added a lot of humor to the film. Poulter deserves extra credit for having a fantastic American accent (he’s actually British) and rapping to one of my favorite songs from the 90’s, TLC’s “[Don’t Go Chasing] Waterfalls”. No matter how many times I watch that scene, I still laugh.

The real stars of the film however, are not Aniston and Sudeikis but Kathryn Hahn and Nick Offerman, who play the Fitzgeralds. The Fitzgeralds are the “real life” version of the Millers, and it was really funny to watch Hahn and Offerman work opposite each other. Not only does the couple steal every scene they are in, but they also create some of the biggest laughs of the entire film. I would be perfectly okay with a spinoff movie that just followed them around the entire time.

While We’re The Millers isn’t the comedy of the summer, that honor easily goes to The Heat, it is a fun film that will definitely keep you entertained and laughing. Especially funny are the bloopers during the credits. Make sure you stick around for those! As a Friends fan, I especially enjoyed a Rachel Green related prank the crew pulls on Jennifer Aniston.

My Review: C+/B-

LAUREN BRADSHAW grew up in Courtland, graduated from Southampton Academy and doubled-majored in foreign affairs and history at the University of Virginia. She lives in the Washington, D.C., and can be reached at lnb5e@virginia.edu.