sat 24/10/2020

We're the Millers | reviews, news & interviews

We're the Millers

We're the Millers

Aniston strips and Sudeikis smirks in this patchy farce from the director of Dodgeball

It's a family affair: awkwardness and acrimony in fake-family comedy 'We're the Millers'

We're the Millers is a road movie which sees a group of outsiders learn how to fill traditional roles and find happiness. It's a film that flirts with rebellion but ultimately reveals itself to be boringly conformist. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber had a memorable hit with his debut Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story but, in the manner of one of that film's KOs, he falls flat on his back here.

We're the Millers is a road movie which sees a group of outsiders learn how to fill traditional roles and find happiness. It's a film that flirts with rebellion but ultimately reveals itself to be boringly conformist. Director Rawson Marshall Thurber had a memorable hit with his debut Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story but, in the manner of one of that film's KOs, he falls flat on his back here.

Jason Sudeikis plays David Clark, a small-time weed dealer who's never really grown up. When he's robbed of his drug stash and money after playing the good Samaritan he finds himself in debt to mwa-ha-ha drug lord Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms), who blackmails him into smuggling a comedically large quantity of marijuana over the Mexican border. A chance encounter with a "real-life Flanders" gives David an idea and he contrives a cover - a fake family assembled from the misfits that surround him: his stripper neighbour Rose (Jennifer Aniston), neglected teen Kenny (Will Poulter) and street kid Casey (Emma Roberts). And off they set in their Winnebago, which is about to be filled to bursting with drugs. They're known as the Millers.

Unfortunately, in its hurry to rattle through the "tedious" set-up stuff, We're the Millers forgets to flesh any of these people out and so its characters are defined pretty much as they are on the poster which labels them "drug dealer", "virgin", "stripper", "runaway". The quartet are on a predictable trajectory, towards becoming the family they are pretending to be.

There's not enough story, or original ideas to sustain an 80-minute runtime let alone the 110 minutes it actually lasts, although if you ignore the fact that everything feels painfully contrived some of the more out-there moments do come off. For example there's a "swinging in a tent" scene which may provoke a few guilty giggles. It's a sequence that's enhanced hugely by the presence of Parks and Recreation's Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn (pictured above right) as the frisky Fitzgerald's - happy campers who end up attaching themselves to the Millers - even if these two fine performers do tauntingly remind us what bolder central casting could have achieved.

A stronger core cast might for example have lifted some of the weaker material so that the film bounced along rather than frequently feeling flat. Sudeikis' everyman asshole shtick is getting pretty tired, Aniston is increasingly inexpressive, Roberts lacks the edge of a street urchin and promising Brit Will Poulter is often badly served by the material which asks little more of him than to act like a brainless dork.

And so to the stripping. We've seen plenty of middle-aged Hollywood beauties (and Tom Cruise) showing us they've still got it by baring their bodies. Whereas Marisa Tomei for example chose to take it all off in credible character piece The Wrestler, Aniston is lumbered with the ignominious task of stripping in a movie that's all about cheap laughs - a movie which purports to teach us that strippers are people too but one that's in juvenile awe of women in their underpants. To make matters worse Aniston often seems uncomfortable during such moments and a sequence where she strips to get the group out of danger is beyond ludicrous and more than slightly unsettling.

In better hands the concept could have been heart-warming, in better hands it could have been a bad-taste riot, however in Thurber's hands We're the Millers is no more than a few reasonable comedic set-pieces strung loosely together - a collection of memorable(ish) highs and sagging lows.

Overleaf: watch the trailer for We're the Millers

Follow @EmmaSimmonds on Twitter

 


Aniston is lumbered with the ignominious task of stripping in a movie that's all about cheap laughs

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2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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