The biggest problem with We’re the Millers is not that it’s a pretty humorless movie that thinks it’s hilarious, but rather that it’s a pretty humorless movie with a large cast of great comedic actors. Jason Sudeikis, Nick Offerman, Ed Helms, Kathryn Hahn, Jennifer Aniston, these guys deserve a better movie.
Perhaps on paper the concept of the film sounds new and exciting. David (Sudeikis) is a thirty-something pot dealer, tapped by his supplier (Helms) to smuggle a small fortune of the stuff across the Mexican border. His brilliant scheme is to recruit his stripper neighbor (Aniston), a homeless teen (Emma Roberts), and his other neighbor (Will Poulter), to be his Potemkin family and help him sneak past the border patrol. Along the way they meet Don and Edie (Offerman and Hahn), a frivolous family on their own RV vacation.
Taking a film genre (the family road-trip comedy) and changing it up for comedic effect (fake family! drugs!) has worked with other movies (see Hot Fuzz, among others), but it doesn’t work for We’re the Millers. Instead of digging in for creative jokes to accompany its interesting premise, it instead attempts to amaze the viewer with how far it’s willing to go for a supposed laugh. But at the end of various gags involving incest, dead babies, swinging, and Jennifer Aniston’s body, there are no actual laughs. It’s all shock and very little substance.
There are a lot of gross-out attempts, nudity, and violence played up for comedy, but none of it seems earned. Even the profanity, the lifeblood for most R-rated comedies that can sometimes make them funnier, is just relentless and annoying. It’s as if the script is using the f-bomb to prove how it is pushing boundaries instead of actually pushing any.
Granted there are some funny moments, but they’re few and far between. The truly funny bits are all thanks to Offerman and Hahn, and their excellent chemistry and timing. But mostly the actors are trying to make the most of bad material, and not really succeeding.
We’re the Millers opens today in Philly area theaters.