“We’re The Millers” — a film review by Gary Chew
It is not without a good deal of caution that I ever offer a suggestion that a particular movie is as funny as either “Young Frankenstein” or “Blazing Saddles.” However, I must gingerly state that “We’re The Millers” is possibly as much a laugh riot as the Mel Brooks classics of 1974.
Many years have passed since those remarkable movies have come, then morphed into the legends both richly deserve — the raunchy factor having significantly intensified since. Exponentially so, it seems, since the days of Madeline Kahn singing “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life,” or several ranch hands, seated around an evening camp fire, slipping into a near state of asphyxiation due to group flatulence.
Yes, the language used by the Millers is as up-to-date as things now or ever have been in Kansas City. Not only is the language employed by the Millers and people they meet on the way back and forth between their smuggling an enormous load of marijuana from Mexico to Colorado terribly modern, but the topics of their conversations must be labeled “I Can’t Believe What They’re Talking About In This Movie.”
The circumstance in which the Millers put themselves to insure they aren’t nabbed for being drug mules sets the tone. They’re a wholesome-looking, family-values kind of family in a rented RV loaded to the teeth with enough pot “to kill Willie Nelson” – to quote one line in the film.
Actually, the four Millers aren’t Millers at all. The film’s exposition shows them for what they really are: David (Jason Sudeikis) is a longtime, nice guy seller of dope on the streets of Denver; Rose (Jennifer Aniston) is a Mile High City stripper who lives in the same dumpy apartment building as David. Also in the building is Kenny (Will Poulter), a kid who’s soon to learn a lot more before this movie comes to a close. Outside the apartment building, Casey (Emma Roberts) is a seemingly homeless, runaway teenage girl a few years older than Kenny.
As our story opens, Casey is being hassled by some older street punks just outside the residence of David, Rose and Kenny, none of whom live in the same unit. Kenny races out to make her safe, with David rushing a few seconds behind, hoping to quell the ruckus.
That’s when the … well, everything hits fan. The punks assault David and rob him of his weed and all the money he owes Brad (Ed Helms), the bad guy of the piece. To keep Brad from wasting him for nonpayment and the loss of grass, David agrees to make a motor trip to Mexico to pick up the Mary Jane that Brad must absolutely have by Sunday evening for purposes of distribution.
David, Rose, Kenny and Casey all miraculously become the Millers, taking an innocent south-of-the-border vacation in that recreational vehicle. Father, mother, daughter, younger brother.
What could go wrong? Well, that’s where the laughs come in … and there are lots of them … especially so since Rose hates David (he’s hit on her in the strip bar where she works); Dealin’ David has avoided marriage and a family; Kenny’s a virginal doofus (some fun here); and cute, foul-mouthed Casey is hip to the scene and finds everything a monstrous drag – especially Kenny.
The most difficult requirement for this quartet of misfits is to act, dress and look like a middle-class American family happily tooling to and from Mexico in that Republican RV of theirs.
We do have something here that smells a bit like “Little Miss Sunshine,” but “We’re The Millers” is a movie about fumbling the execution of a dangerous drug smuggle across an international border while “Sunshine” tells the tale of getting a sweet little girl to a performance contest in Southern California with her weird grandfather in tow who, ultimately, doesn’t make it to the show.
Many movies that come our way have funny stuff; some of it in places, but with dead spots … or leaning more than they should on easy conceits for the chuckles. “We’re The Millers” has that extra something that all good films need to be really good: effective writing, smashing dialogue and a keen sense of timing. Those are the tickets for admission to join in on the really big laughs. I recommend you buy a ticket to “We’re The Millers” and laugh for yourself.
And besides, Jennifer Aniston does a very nifty stripper act about two-thirds of the way in.