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Saturday, September 7, 2013

We're the Millers

Sometimes it's OK for comedies to JUST be funny.

Also at Channel 24.


What it's about


After a drug dealer is ripped off by a group of street thugs, the only way he can make it up to his supplier is by transporting a huge shipment of drugs from Mexico into the United States. To do so, he comes up with a plan that involves creating a fake family made up of a homeless girl, a stripper and a young nerd who lives alone in his building.


What we thought


We're the Millers has a lot going against it. It features a frankly moronic premise that somehow needed four different screenwriters to wrap their heads around it and, with Jennifer Aniston as the female lead, it looked to be yet another lightly comedic dud by the former Friends star. Amazingly enough, despite being very stupid, incredibly predictable and sometimes unjustly sentimental, We're the Millers is actually a likeable and genuinely funny comedy.


For a start, those four screenwriters clearly have some understanding of dumb but likeable comedy as between them they've worked on the Wedding Crashers, She's Out of My League and, um, Hot Tube Time Machine. Monty Python they ain't, obviously, but they do clearly have enough experience to put together a halfway decent comedy and with Dodgeball's Rawson Marshall Thurber at the helm, they manage to do precisely that.


In front of the cameras though, things are even better. For a start, like Horrible Bosses before it, Ms. Aniston once again gets to play a character that is edgier and unquestionably funnier than the increasingly bland retread of her most famous role. Her Horrible Bosses co-star, Jason Sudeikis, meanwhile, doesn't exactly stretch himself but he's both charming and naturally funny enough for that never to be a problem. Best of all though, are the film's many supporting players.


Emma Roberts doesn't get too much to do but as she is a standout actress in a generation full of standout actresses, she certainly makes the best of it. Her on-screen “brother” though, played by young Brit actor, Will Poulton, is pretty much the star of the film. Anyone who has seen Son of Rambow – and if you haven't seen it, run out and get yourself a copy, it's spectacularly good – already knows how talented Poulton is but he is so endearing and so consistently funny that he makes the old comedy staple of the nerdy virgin suddenly seem like a brand new, and thoroughly brilliant, comedic invention.


Along with the Millers themselves, the film is stock full of great comic turns from Ed Helms as Sudeikis' character's slimy drug supplier, Luis Guzman as a corrupt Mexican cop and the Parks and Recreation team of Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn as a perky, but somewhat “off”, husband and wife that the Millers keep on bumping into during their “vacation from hell”. It would take a particularly crappy script to sink a cast this good but fortunately that certainly isn't the case here.

On the other hand, without a cast this good, a lot of the script might look a lot worse than it does. This is a comedy that plays it very safe and hits every single note that you kind of expect it to and without the comic greatness of the cast, this would have been even more obvious than it is. As it stands, some of the gags do fall terribly flat almost by their obviousness alone and the film's occasionally cloying sentimentality offers no surprises whatsoever as you can tell exactly what the film's “dramatic” beats are the minute the premise of the film reveals itself.


Still, for all of its almost objective problems, We're the Millers isn't the sort of film you analyse and it obviously has nothing whatsoever to say about anything at all but, provided you put your brain into autopilot, it is a funny and enjoyable surprise.




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