Rawson Marshall Thurber’s We’re the Millers begins with a montage of notorious YouTube clips, such as ‘double rainbow’ and ‘naked guy running into a glass door’ (you know the one). Though evidently intended as a means of warming up the audience, it just comes across as being too contrived, forcing the audience to laugh from the offset in such an obvious way, which screams of saying “This is a comedy film, look at some funny stuff. Now laugh!’ But we didn’t. And sadly, we didn’t laugh much after that point either.
We delve into the hapless livelihood of veteran drug dealer David (Jason Sudeikis), entering in to middle age without any family or responsibility. However when his apartment is robbed and he can’t pay back his supplier Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms), he reluctantly agrees to run an errand for the eccentric millionaire to collect a vast amount of weed from Mexico and bring it back over the border. In order to make the task somewhat more achievable, David manages to persuade fellow delinquents and neighbours in need of quick cash, Rose (Jennifer Aniston), Kenny (Will Poulter) and Casey (Emma Roberts) to pretend to be his family, as they embark on an adventure that, unsurprisingly, doesn’t ever quite go to plan.
The general premise to We’re the Millers offers the opportunity for much comedy value, as our characters all sub-consciously adopt typical family traits. Although they are all desperate to get this ‘job’ done as quickly as possible, David and Rose start behaving like a real married couple and treating the other two as their actual children. Unfortunately this is a joke that is effectively stretched out for an hour and 45 minutes.
Nonetheless, there is a fun, disaster-comedy feel to the feature, with a farcical edge that takes our protagonists on a journey that faces various complications along the way. It’s typical of the genre in the way the task at hand appears entirely feasible and straightforward, before, naturally, things get way out of hand. It’s this very element that keeps the comedy alive as we wonder quite what escapade they will land themselves in next to further damage their chances of coming out of this deal triumphantly. However regrettably, the initial intensity of the border sequence comes far too early on into our story, as this is a moment we could have built up towards more gradually to heighten the tension and suspense of the scene.
There is the occasional memorable moment, with Sudeikis standing out, displaying a strong balance between humour and tenderness, and supplying the picture with that natural comedic quality it needs. Kudos to our resident Brit too, as Poulter can be seen kissing Jennifer Aniston in his big Hollywood debut. He may as well pack it all in now and call it a day. Sadly the supporting actors, consisting of Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn and Molly C. Quinn, play characters who haven’t been particularly well-crafted, and are very trite, offering little to the film. They’re in it too often as well, not allowing much space for other potentially humorous characters to get involved.
Though complete with a handful of funny and touching moments, ultimately We’re the Millers is too predictable a film, falling into conventional archetypes, with a finale you could foresee around a quarter of an hour into proceedings. Sometimes indulging in a harmless – if unoriginal – comedy is exactly what you’re in the mood for, but to be honest, a little more risk and innovation would have been welcomed on this particular occasion.