I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t understand how Jason Sudeikis has a film career. I’m warming to the man, perhaps partly due to the fact that he is being foisted on me so often in recent years, but I don’t know how he managed to get so many lead roles when he’s so decidedly average. There MUST be something I’m unaware of. Perhaps his improv skills are so good that he immediately improves any movie that he’s involved with, perhaps he’s just not been allowed to let loose onscreen yet in ways that people know he can, or perhaps he’s just REALLY good at being at the right parties and talking to the right people. Despite my opinion of him, he’s actually quite good in this movie, which proves to be a surprisingly enjoyable comedy from start to finish.
Sudeikis is David Clark, a small-time pot dealer who finds himself in a bit of trouble when he’s robbed. Because the big man that he has to answer to (Brad Gurdlinger, played by Ed Helms) doesn’t care to hear any tales of misfortune. Fortunately, there’s a solution that may work for both of them. Brad needs “a smidge and a half” of marijuana delivered to him from Mexico. David is understandably nervous about his step up from small-time dealer to border-crossing drug smuggler but he doesn’t really have any choice. In an attempt to make his journey easier, and to avert suspicion, he comes up with a plan to take some people along with him and pose as a family on holiday. The Millers. A young, naive boy, named Kenny (Will Poulter), who lives in David’s apartment block gets to pretend to be his son, a homeless girl named Casey (Emma Roberts) gets to pretend to be his daughter and a stripper named Rose (Jennifer Aniston) has to put on her best loving wife act. On their journey, “The Millers’ meet a sweet, but odd, family who help and hinder them in equal measure, and also find out that instead of transporting “a smidge and a half” of marijuana they have actually double-crossed a major drug dealer and have to get home with a camper van FULL of drugs.
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, who I will always be indebted to for the gag-filled Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, this is predictable stuff that’s raised up a notch or two by some fantastic one-liners (courtesy of the four writers who worked on the script) and one or two great set-pieces.
As is so often the case with any movie starring Jason Sudeikis, it’s the rest of the cast that make this worth seeing. Don’t get me wrong, Sudeikis isn’t as irritable as he so often can be and he has some great moments, but his performance is forgotten about whenever the talented Will Poulter is onscreen. And nothing else will occupy the mind of any red-blooded male when Aniston threatens to steal the the entire film with a dance routine performed to prove her stripper credentials. Of course, Aniston is great with comedy, but she’s recently been allowed to add a bit of spice to her characters that has really helped her escape that long shadow cast by “Rachel from Friends”. Emma Roberts does well, despite being given less to do than the other members of the central quartet. Ed Helms may not be onscreen for long, but he’s always funny whenever he appears, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn and Molly C. Quinn are all wonderful as the family who end up befriending the main characters, and Tomer Sisley is a suitable mix of charm and menace as the wronged drug dealer who ends up in hot pursuit. And Mark L. Young deserves a mention for his hilarious turn as Scottie P.
It may sound like I’m damning the film with faint praise but We’re The Millers is a perfectly fine, mainstream comedy. It’s a shame that there weren’t one or two more set-pieces in the mix but the ones that are there manage to raise some big laughs while every other scene provides at least a few chuckles. And, as much as I know it’s an easy way to send audience members out with smiles on their faces, some of the outtakes shown as the end credits start to roll are hilarious, with the very last one being the best.
DIRECTOR: RAWSON MARSHALL THURBER
WRITER: BOB FISHER, STEVE FABER, SEAN ANDERS, JOHN MORRIS
STARS: JASON SUDEIKIS, JENNIFER ANISTON, WILL POULTER, EMMA ROBERTS, ED HELMS, NICK OFFERMAN, KATHRYN HAHN, MOLLY C. QUINN, TOMER SISLEY, MATTHEW WILLIG, MARK L. YOUNG
RUNTIME: 110 MINS APPROX