We’re the Millers (2013)


Maybe I’m not really “the Man” I say I am. Maybe I’m just a 19-year-old blogger, who watches a shit-ton of movies and can write snappy-sayings. Just maybe.

After being robbed of his weed-stash, small-time drug-dealer David Clark (Jason Sudekis) is left owing a bit of money and hash to his main-supplier, who just so happens to come in the form of a very rich, very snobby millionaire named Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms). Even though David thinks he’s through and going to get off’d, Brad offers him a way “out” of sorts: Find a way to smuggle a “smidge” of weed from Mexico to the U.S. without getting caught. Sounds easy enough, however, David looks and acts like a drug-dealer so he knows that he can’t get by in his normal skin. Therefore, he gets whoever he can around him to create a fake, happy-go-lucky family that, from the outside, look all loving and dorky enough to get past any suspicious law-enforcers. Problem is, David can’t find “classy” enough people to help him get away with it all, therefore, he gets whatever he can find in the form of down-on-her-luck stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston) as his fake wife; a runaway teenager (Emma Roberts),as his daughter; and a socially-awkward nerd who lives in his building and is practically left alone for all hours of the day (Will Poulter) as his son. It’s the perfect plan, well, sort of.

Some may disagree with me, and if so, that’s cool, but I will say that the one aspect working for this movie is it’s premise. Granted, nothing really new or cool, but it does offer plenty of room for comedy and serviceable moments of human-interaction, both of which did not seem at all evident in the first 30 minutes of this thing at all. In fact, none of the charm, humor, or fun that occurs in the last hour or so, even remotely shows up in it’s first-and-a-half act. Instead, every line of comedy, every joke, and every pop-culture reference that this movie drops out of it’s behind, hits the ground; and not with a whimper, but with a bang. Also, mind you, it was an R-rated comedy that made it seem like it could just get by on throwing the F-word around, in order to make a line of dialogue even close to be considered “funny”. Wasn’t working, I was pissed, and to be honest, I wondered if this was going to be the worst comedy of the summer (second to that crap-fest the Internship).

"I work with this piece of sex and go home at night to an even better piece. Trust me, you don't have to tell me "I'm lucky". I already know!"
“I work with this piece of sex and go home at night to an even better piece. Trust me, you don’t have to tell me “I’m lucky”. I already know!”

However, something changed within me, as well as with this movie. First of all, once the plot got going in it’s quick, contrived way, suddenly, the movie found it’s footing and the charm was working. Not just on the crowd around me, but myself most importantly. I found myself laughing, grinning, chuckling, and even gut-busting a couple of times, and that’s when I found myself in my comfort-zone. Of course it still continued to be raunchy and low-brow with it’s moments of mistaken incest, spider-bitten testicles, and couples “swinging together”, but it did so in a way that still made me laugh, without really making me feel like it was trying too hard.

During some parts, the movie does seem to try hard, a little too hard I may say, but it had me laughing a lot more than I expected and with a comedy such as this, when it’s obvious that most of the jokes are going to come completely from below-the-belt, I’m more than happy to embrace it. I still acknowledged it’s flaws, but I also recognized that it made me giggle, and didn’t make me feel like the only person either. Maybe that’s why comedies are so enjoyable to see at the movies in the first place. Not only do you laugh, but others join in on the fun and laughter as well. It’s what makes the movies, THE MOVIES, and it was nice to get at least a little bit of a solid-reminder that modern-day comedies can still be considered “funny”, especially with a larger-crowd.

Then again though, I can’t get too swamped-up in the people around me because, as you know: I am a film critic, and it is my responsibility/duty to make sure that I see and focus on all aspects of a movie, both good and bad. Thankfully, the bad doesn’t out-weigh the good, but it does show many times, mainly in it’s sympathetic-route it so obviously takes, yet feels a bit twisted in it’s own morals. The whole premise behind this flick makes it sound mean, dirty, disgusting, and naughty, which it is for a long while, but once the flick begins to show it’s softer-side and get all heartfelt on our asses, it doesn’t work. Cause don’t let me forget to remind you, this is a movie about a drug-dealer who gets a stripper, a homeless girl, and some nerd-a-tron to pose as his “family”, just so that he can make a pay-day with the drug kingpin he owes money to. Doesn’t sound so sweet and innocent now, does it? Exactly my feelings, hence why it’s so odd when the flick starts to make us feel like there are lessons to be learned, and they come at a cost.

The cost being: Less laughs, more sympathy. Not terrible to watch, but it does drag the movie down a big-step.

"Folks, I just wanted to say good-bye and enjoy the rest of your trip?"
“Folks? I just wanted to say good-bye and enjoy the rest of your trip.”

With this type of movie though, you have to have a cast that’s willing and able to do all sorts of the raunchy, baddie-bad shenanigans that ensue, and I think everybody is more than able to participate: They actually show themselves having a grand time and loving the hell out of it. I have to say, even though I think he’s pretty funny on SNL, Jason Sudeikis has not done much for me with his movie-choices. Some of them are inspired, showing more of a human behind the hilarity (Going the Distance), whereas others are just lazy and used as an obvious ploy to make us see him as the funny, everyday man (Hall Pass). Thankfully here, he shows that he can be funny in a way that’s not asking him to stretch much of his acting-skills, but also doesn’t need him to when the material’s as simple as they come: Look charming, be witty, and have fun. That’s all there is to this material, and Sudeikis owns it, giving his own pieces of dry-sarcasm whenever possibly needed.

Some may also be a bit worried about whether or not the simple-gal nature of Jennifer Aniston’s image will get in the way of the stripper character she’s playing here, but have no fear, because the chicky holds her own and is very funny. Honestly, she doesn’t look the part of a trashy-stripper, in fact, her body’s too natural for that type of decked-out, busty-look that most associate with strippers, but when it comes to holding her own with the raunch and the lowbrow, she does a spectacular job. She’s got that charm about her that always works, no matter if you want to admit it or not. As for the kiddie-bops, Emma Roberts and Will Poulter are also very good and funny, especially Poulter, who shows us all of his geeky character’s antics, doesn’t let up a bit, but also gets beneath him as well and shows a bit of a softer-side that we expected to see, but not to actually believe in. The movie gives him his moment to shine and rather than it being stupid, trite, and predictable, it’s surprisingly cute and heartfelt, aka, the only instance where the movie’s seriousness worked. As for all of the other moments: Just should have stayed smug.

Consensus: Don’t expect We’re the Millers to win you over right away, it takes time and a force of will, but once it’s charm starts moving, and the cast begins to get more involved with the material, then you’ll have a fun time, laughing-while-holding-your-belly and all.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

So natural, yet so smokin'. The End.
Just as speechless as you.
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24 comments

  1. Good review, glad to see you had a nice time with it. Personally I really thought the writing sucked for this thing and I couldn’t get into it at all. Agreeably, there were several moments that had me laughing hysterically but darn it I wish the script was better. I guess it was kind of what I was expecting. . .

  2. Rental seems most likely for me after reading your review, I kind of hoping for more though. I suppose many of the best parts where in the trailer. Great review!

    -James

  3. Seems like a strong rental. Honestly I can’t stand Jennifer Aniston and if she wasn’t in this I’d probably be all over this. As for the movie it sounds like it’s night and day from the 1st act to the 2nd act. I’ve always been confused by the need to shoehorn a sentimental bit into movie’s like this because it always falls flat.

    • All comedies get like that by the end, and it doesn’t quite work as well here as it should for other comedies. Oh well, it’s still surprisingly funny.

  4. I’m a little disappointed since I expected it to be good, but I’m glad you still found it somewhat worthwhile. The misuse of the word “it’s” in the place of “its” made this review a little harder to read than usual, but the content is otherwise well-written.

  5. […] “Don’t expect We’re the Millers to win you over right away, it takes time and a force of will, but once it’s charm starts moving, and the cast begins to get more involved with the material, then you’ll have a fun time, laughing-while-holding-your-belly and all.” – Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews […]

  6. We’re the Millers caught me off guard too Dan. I thought it was just going to be another throwaway R-rated comedy. After hitting its stride, the movie got very funny and surprsingly charming. It is very predictable though, and does suffer from the typical lowbrow stuff. Neither of these things caused it to stumble too much for me however. Unlike you, I didn’t mind the more serious aspects about “lessons to be learned” and what not. I think that they balanced the story nicely.

    I enjoyed the fact these very different, crass people found genuine affection for each other. I laughed a lot at how they mocked all of those terrible family stereotypes while they were transforming into a fake family, yet they quickly fell into them once they got underway on their trip. In that way, it’s an interesting parody on the family road trip film. Great review.

    • In a way. However, I also feel like this movie didn’t know what it wanted to do with its comedy. Whether or not it wanted to be raunchy, low-brow, witty, smart, or place itself down on one specific aspect at all.

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