We’re the Millers: Wins with Comedy & Heart

By Emily Holland · August 12, 2013

Sometimes it’s hard to go see a comedy by yourself. After all, laughter is something that is best shared with friends. I was already a bit skeptical about seeing We’re the Millers; I had deemed it one of those typical dumb comedies that have no humorous moments outside of the five jokes seen in the trailers (i.e. The House Bunny). What I got, however, was a fun, outrageous spin on the classic “road trip” plotline that had me laughing louder than any of the other ten people in the theatre on a Friday morning. If that’s not a sign of a great comedy, I don’t know what is.

Now, it’s one thing for a family to go on a road trip in an RV; it’s a whole new ballpark when a drug smuggler enlists a fake family to bring a “smidge” of marijuana up from Mexico in that RV. That’s essentially what happens in this new comedy. Jason Sudeikis stars as David Clark, a veteran drug dealer whose entire drug supply and life savings are stolen within the first thirty minutes of the movie. As if that weren’t bad enough, he owes over 40,000 dollars to drug lord Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms). It is clear that David and Brad have been pals since college, but David seems to have gotten the short end of the stick in that relationship. His lower status forces him to leave his drug dealing life behind to become an international drug smuggler in order to pay off his debt.

David knows that he cannot simply cross the border alone; that’s far too suspicious, especially considering that he will be driving a giant RV packed to the brim with pot (it turns out the Gurdlinger’s “smidge” is actually quite a bit more). That is where his “family” comes into play. He is easily able to recruit Kenny (Will Poulter), an eager, socially awkward kid from his apartment building, and Casey (Emma Roberts), a gothic punk-rock chick who has taken to living on the streets to avoid her family. However, when David approaches Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a stripper who is also his neighbor, to be the mother of the family, he meets some resistance. But, when Rose quits her job at the strip club, partly due to the new enthusiastic dancer called “Boner Garage,” Rose decides that it might be worth it to become a drug smuggler as long as she gets a decent paycheck out of it. With a few new haircuts and wardrobes, the family is off to Mexico, where they will hopefully be able to pick up the goods and leave without any problems. But we know it couldn’t be that easy.

Written by a talented group including Steve Faber and Bob Fisher, who co-wrote Wedding Crashers, We’re the Millers lives up to the level of comedy presented in the trailer. In fact, it exceeds that level with a slew of unpredictable situations, rambling antics, and quirky characters to keep the plot from ever becoming too realistic (or boring).

The movie is full of sex jokes and even some good old slapstick comedy, but what got me laughing the most were the perfectly-timed jabs at today’s youth culture. In one scene, Sudeikis’ character can be seen poking fun at the excess use of emoticons and the popular term “yolo.” In another, he makes a downright hilarious joke about buying a “cheesy feet” scented candle from Anthropologie. Jokes like these allow the audience to poke fun at themselves in a way, which definitely creates a more personal theater experience.

The writers also throw in some sweet moments, such as when we finally learn Rose’s real name or when David and Rose start to behave like actual parents, to help balance out what would otherwise be a film composed of a string of dirty jokes. These brief bits are essential to creating a plot that relies not only on humor but also on getting the audience to actually care about the characters. A drug dealer, a stripper, a weird kid, and a punky homeless girl are not very likeable on their own, but when they start to form their own unique family bonds and reveal their softer sides, it becomes much easier for an audience to sympathize with them. A likeable character that is also funny creates an all-around enjoyable movie-going experience.

The film is full of fun performances and surprise cameos from veteran comedy actors that round out the partial anonymity of the main cast. Will Poulter, who I know from the ridiculously enjoyable indie flick Son of Ram-bow, is quite unknown to the world of Hollywood thus far in his career, and even Emma Roberts has had some transparency in the industry. They definitely show that they have what it takes for the comedy genre. Jennifer Aniston is a rom-com queen and definitely provides a great audience draw, but the real star here is Sudeikis.

Jason Sudeikis doesn’t have to prove that he’s funny–we’ve all seen him on Saturday Night Live, which, sadly, he will be leaving this year. However, he does need to prove that he is capable of holding his own in a motion picture. Much like Kristen Wiig broke out in Bridesmaids, I’m naming We’re the Millers as Sudeikis’ breakout from sketch comedy. Granted, he has been featured in other comical hits including Horrible Bosses, also featuring Aniston, but in We’re the Millers, Sudeikis is the main attraction and I dare say I’d go see another movie he leads in a heartbeat.

When you go see We’re the Millers (and trust me, you really should), don’t forget to stick around after the movie ends because there are bloopers and if there’s anything I love more than a good funny movie it’s a blooper real. I mean, who doesn’t love to see Hollywood stars poke fun at themselves a little bit?