'We're The Millers' strikes a funny bone but misses the gut laughs.
Review Vital Stats:
Theater: AMC 16 Tyler Galleria
Time: 10:10 pm August 11, 2013
Projector Type: Digital 2D
Film Rating: R
Film Runtime: 1 hr 40 min
Studio: New Line Cinema
Loves: Original ideas
Likes: Road trip movies, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts
Neutral: Jason Sudekis
Hates: Unmet potential
Did you know?: Steve Buscemi and Will Arnett were originally planned to be the pot dealer
After David (Jason Sudekis), a low life pot dealer, loses his pot and money stash to a group of thugs, his boss (Ed Helms) forces him to drive to Mexico and smuggle a "smidge and a half" of marijuana across the border. Knowing he has no chance in hell to make it on his own, he employs the help of his stripper neighbor, Rose (Jennifer Aniston), the local dork Kenny (Will Poulter) who was abandoned by his mother and gutter-punk runaway Kasey (Emma Roberts) to pose as the perfect American suburban family to insure that he gets his drugs to their destination.
"We're the Millers" is a funny, and often times hilarious, movie. The concept alone is just overflowing with possibilities and the cast is pitch perfect. But then why is it that moments after it ended it felt as though it still wasn't everything it could have been? This is a strange case of a comedy that delivers the laughs but unfortunately never goes far enough to push the boundaries and set itself apart from other movies in the road trip genre. In short, it plays it safe and because of that it never truly lives up to its full potential.
Aside from the highly original and uproariously funny "This is the End", this summer movie season has been sadly light on comedic offerings (or at least good ones). "The Internship" was a pathetic attempt at rekindling some box office mojo from two stars who have seen better days. "The Hangover Part 3", while better than most gave it credit for, was unnecessary and not very funny. Now we have "We're the Millers", a film with an ingenious concept, a solid cast and plenty of raunchy humor to fill a family RV with but unfortunately a little lost when it comes to what it wants to be.
All that most comedies need to succeed is a great concept. A great cast, a great director, a great script and a budget to fund it will all come at a later date. "This is the End" had a great concept and all the pieces just fell into place to make one of the best comedies in years. Sadly, while "We're the Millers" also had most of the pieces it needed to fall into place, it wasn't nearly as funny as it thinks it is.
There are moments in "We're the Millers" that will have you laughing your ass off. Then there are moments when you will chuckle. Then there are moments where you will find yourself grinning a whole lot. Then there are moments where you will be amused. Then, most importantly, there will be one singular moment when you realize that you really haven't been laughing as much as you think you have and that is the moment when the Millers becomes just another road trip comedy with a really clever premise that is kind of wasted.
The problem isn't with the cast. Jason Sudekis may never become a leading man but here (and in other roles), he proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he works well within an ensemble group. Thankfully for him as well is that he is surrounded by some quality comedic actors. Jennifer Aniston once again shows that she is much more appealing in these raunchy comedies than she has ever been in those forgettable romantic comedies she is most known for.
Emma Roberts hasn't had a whole lot of experience in roles like this, but she comes out swinging and nails the perfect deadpan delivery style needed to counter balance the outlandishness of everyone elses performances. Then there is Will Poulter who easily steals every single scene he is in (and raps pretty good for a white kid too) as the clueless virgin who is just happy to be part of a family, even if that family is comprised of a homeless girl, a stripper and a drug dealer.
The supporting cast is also fairly strong. Ed Helms turns in an energetic (and very odd) performance as the drug lord that Sudekis works for, and Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn play a real suburban family that befriends the Millers on their trip who turn out to be a little more willing to experiment than they first let on. Overall, just about everyone is on the ball and do their part to keep the film amusing from beginning to end.
However, that is part of the problem, its more amusing than anything else. Clearly everyone involved was shooting for laugh-out-loud moments, which it has, but they are few and far between. There are two different types of comedies going on within the same movie here, the fake family movie which we came to see and the road trip movie which we have seen countless times before in other similar films. The balance isn't tilted in the right direction though which results in too many road trip jokes and far too few fake family jokes.
With most of the comedy unfortunately focused on the more standard road trip stuff instead of the fact that they aren't really a family, the film becomes more of a chuckle-fest than anything else. Aside from a couple of stand-out moments involving Kenny, a spider and a classic rap song, the road trip stuff isn't very inspired. Thankfully whenever the Millers are either forced to act like a real family or indirectly act in a completely contradictory way to being a real family, the film goes from squandering its great potential into fully realizing it, if even for only a handful of scenes.
From the kissing lessons the Kenny receives from his "sister", which goes to some unexpected places with appropriately hilarious results, to Kasey receiving a lecture from her "parents" about her new boyfriend Scotty P, who clearly has no ragrets, the film on occasion turns into the film we came to see. The only tragedy beyond there not being more scenes like those is that when they do occur, it just reminds us how much better the movie would have been if there were more of it.
However, the film does cast a spell of sorts that makes it difficult to really hate on it. Instead, you will likely be more disappointed than anything else, but your level of disappoint will range depending on whether or not those other factors mentioned earlier (the cast, script, director) worked for you or not. If you like the cast and are a fan or road trip movies, chances are "We're the Millers" will tickle your funny bone more often than not.
In the end, the dynamic between all the actors and a handful of well staged jokes with great payoffs makes "We're the Millers" a winner and a worthwhile endeavor for those looking for a fun time at the movies. As long as you don't go into it expecting it to deliver anything more than that, chances are your time with the Millers will be time well spent.
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