“We’re the Millers” Movie Review

      Every summer movie season has it’s fair share of films falling into the “raunchy” comedy genre and director Rawson Thurber’s (“Dodgeball”) new entry “We’re the Millers” certainly fits within that mold.  The plots in these films normally try and lull the audience into a web of sentimental story lines, only to then hit them unexpectedly with the kind of gross out gags the Farrelly Brothers made famous with their 90’s films that started the run on these types of comedies , “Dumb and Dumber” and “There’s Something About Mary”.  While there are some notable exceptions, the vast majority of these films play like a carbon copy of those previously mentioned better films.  It’s as if along with the standard summer foray using the well known “Die Hard” formula, we also see films following the Farrelly formula as well.  As unfortunate as it is for the movie going public, it has become increasingly difficult to duplicate the quality of the source material and “We’re the Millers” is no exception.

     With the degradation of our society, I’m certain there’s a paying audience out there for “We’re the Millers” who will emerge with positive remarks and feel they have just witnessed a solid entertainment (as evidenced by it’s strong “A-” CinemaScore).  Essentially, Thurber’s film takes elements from better films, grinds them up and spits them out into what is to be sold as something different and yet the result is just the same old.  Whereas Seth MacFarlane turned the comedy world upside down last summer with the outrageous and original “Ted”, Thurber is unable to replicate what made his previous film “Dodgeball” so effective.  “Ted” and “Dodgeball” (people I know still regularly quip “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball”) are both quotable and memorable at the same time.  Two weeks from now, I highly doubt anyone will be quoting or even referring to “We’re the Millers”.

     The film stars SNL vet Jason Sudeikis, who portrays a middle man pot dealer who is given an assignment by his boss to pick up a “smidge” of marijuana from his supplier in Mexico.  The film’s entire premise is forced squarely on the back of Sudeikis, a much better sidekick than lead, and this results in the feeling he is in over his head as the main draw.  Along for the ride is Jennifer Aniston, an actress who I feel has massive potential but continues to lower herself by appearing in projects like this. One of the first big problems with this film I noticed was the director has paired two leads who both excel in supporting roles.  As the film goes on, there’s no one to take it to the finish as both seem to have a moment in the spot light and then go back to the end of the line, letting someone else have their moment.

     The story follows David (Sudeikis) as he recruits a fake family to help him accomplish the task at hand.  He has an epiphany one day while making fun of a  family in a motor home and observing their positive interactions with law enforcement while asking for directions.  He realizes if he cleaned up and had a wholesome looking wife and kids in tow, he wouldn’t have any red flags as he crosses the border carrying drugs.  His first find is Rose (Aniston), a stripper in an ‘R’ rated film who only strips to her underwear because that’s realistic.  As his two kids, he grabs a neighbor in his building, Kenny (Will Pouler,), and a girl who is between homes living on the street, Kasey (Emma Roberts).  The group is lured into this situation with the promise of money from David’s drug mogul boss, Brad, an overly silly and mostly lame character played by a wasted Ed Helms.  Their adventures follow typical road movie tropes in which the group meets several weird and unmemorable people along the way as they deal with the inevitable issues of their motor home breaking down with the Mexican Drug Cartel hot on their trail.  As the story progresses, you realize all of the funniest bits are all in the film’s trailer and the outcome becomes predictable as hints of turning into a real family engulf the third act.

     Bob Fisher and Steve Faber’s screenplay is loaded with language that is full of ‘F’ words intended to either be funny or just a supposed sign of the times as to the way humans now communicate with each other.  This has been a trend for quite sometime where filmmakers cast squeaky clean actors in their films and think audiences will crack up when they use foul language.  You may recall Jennifer Aniston just did this in “Horrible Bosses” last summer and Cameron Diaz did the same in “Bad Teacher” the summer before.  If this were a serious film, perhaps the language spoken may have some bite to it, but as a comedy, lets face it, we all hear people use profanity everyday and it’s not funny in and of itself.  There has to be a situation to go with it or perhaps the dialogue is a reaction to something the character sees.  This is called comic timing and this film is in short supply, preferring instead to have characters have crude conversations with no payoff for the audience.

     The audience I watched “We’re the Millers” with was laughing sporadically, even at the parts they knew were coming from  the preview.  Though I smiled during the “weed baby” bit (mostly because of the name they chose for it), I found the entertainment value of the film hinges on whether or not you are still shocked by site gags involving male genitalia.  There are painfully long stretches in the film where I felt the filmmakers simply ran out of scenes thought to be funny, but still had to find a way to get the characters to their final destination.  Their solution to fill the time?  Jennifer Aniston in all of her ‘PG’ glory, doing a striptease down to her bra and underwear in a vacant warehouse for vile Cartel thugs and her fake family.  The scene is played up with sparks flying in the air, hair commercial slow motion, and the convenient opportunity to douse herself  with water coming from a shower head.  Was this supposed to be a turn on?  Did Aniston think this would be a funny addition to the film?  Likely, all involved were just passing the time, just like I was.  GRADE: D