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We're the Millers
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2013
Reviewed: Aug. 9, 2013, 3 a.m.
We're the Millers image Mike Miller… family man first, NBA champion second.
Get Lasik.
Stop… Miller Time.
By: Christian Treubig
We're the Millers image
There’s no way that’s fifteen pieces of flair.

Someone needs to knock up Jenny Aniston. A womb that has yet to bear fruit by forty is hip and trendy, but once you start truckin’ along toward the big 5-0, it’s gut-check time. It doesn’t matter how much of an empowered feminist you are, there is no stronger urge than preventing eternal deoxyribonucleic annihilation, which becomes a certainty once your final egg commits bloody suicide and none of its predecessors have been given the chance to walk the Earth. Consider We’re the Millers, where a semi-A-lister happily portrays a forty-something stripper in the last days of her fading allure, as Aniston’s final mating call to America.

Don’t get me wrong; I love the older ladies. They just assume most of the horribly racist things I say are Archie Bunker references, while the younger women I date insist that I apologize to the busboy. I’d like to say I prefer the older ladies of the pole as well, but I had one rather embarrassing experience with a “seasoned” stripper, such that I can’t help but prefer the teenage runaway type these days. Back in ’05, my boys and I were out on the town in Tampa for my bachelor party. I was blacked out by the third tequila shot, but apparently we made our way to central Florida’s hottest gentlemen’s club, The Body of Christy. I somehow ended up in the seltzer room with the 45-ish elder stateswoman of the club, whose services were priced such that four twenties and three singles were more than enough to purchase the full range of “extras”, sans protection.

I thought on the whole it was a pretty baller night out, until the rehearsal dinner the following evening, when I met my mother-in-law-to-be for what was supposed to be the first time. Long story short, I now have a son who will have an inordinate amount of difficulty trying to draw his family tree for Ms. Capshaw’s third grade art class.

Though cinematic excellence may not have been Aniston’s primary motivation for partaking in We’re the Millers, this movie is about as perfect a fit as one could imagine given her skillset. Her role of past-sell-by-date stripper required a laissez-faire middle-aged actress super-secure with her personal image; Aniston knows she’s one of America’s all-time sweethearts and has got nothing left to prove, so she has no problem sort of poking fun at herself here. Showing off that rockin’ bod to potential suitors around the world is a bonus as far as she’s concerned. Like her three co-leads, she puts on a well-done though not especially memorable performance. The implication here would be that the film as a whole is not memorable, but this is not the case. We’re the Millers is quite memorable, and the fact that it pulls it off without spectacular contributions from the bulk of its cast is a testament to its A-grade execution.

America is a road-faring nation, thus we need a good road trip movie every annum or so. We’re the Millers will be more than sufficient to tide us through 2013. It’s Vacation on steroids, steeped in irreverence and cynicism, appropriately mirroring an American Dream that has been fading ever since Chevy Chase stopped being funny.

The general formula for any road trip flick involves skimping on the plot in favor of random humorous set pieces in which the protagonists participate whilst on their journey. We’re the Millers takes that concept to the extreme, and probably has about as sparse a plot as it could get away with. The premise is this: Jason Sudeikis is a middle-aged burnout drug dealer who has his sizeable stash nicked by street thugs. In order to make up the loss to his supplier, he’s forced to mule a sizeable pot stash from Mexico back across the border to the nation where people can type and don’t sleep all day. In order to feign that he’s an upstanding family man and avoid the scrutiny of la policía, he picks up three ne’er-do-wells from in and around his apartment complex to play the part of his wife and offspring: the aforementioned Aniston, a young lanky white guy, and an attractive homeless girl, who has no problem acting out sexually yet somehow doesn’t realize that she can strip like Aniston to avert said homelessness. They set off to Mexico in an RV, and pick up the pot no questions asked. From a narrative perspective, the movie pretty much ends right there, about 30 minutes in. It’s nothing but assorted, loosely conglomerated funny stuff the rest of the way.

This could have ended up being a cinematic disaster, as the four leads put in workmanlike performances, but they are not nearly funny enough to carry this plot-less comedy. As in any road trip film, it’s the “bit players” surrounding the lead cast that usually make or break the experience, and the people that the faux-Millers meet along their journey are usually quite spectacular, with nary a dull moment. One of the first characters we meet is Aniston’s strip club manager. Once he appears on screen, it’s very apparent that the folks behind We’re the Millers understand what’s funny, so you’ll buy in for the next hour and a half. Though he only has about six lines spread out over four minutes of runtime, the club manager is a “minor” comedic character for the ages, doing a smooth-talking, sleazy yet good-natured version of Bill Lumbergh.

Once the Millers hit the road, they meet and cavort with a second family, the Fitzgeralds, who happily aid the Millers when they encounter mechanical difficulties. They’re the born-again Christian type, happy as clams just to be alive on God’s green Earth, and provide a perfect foil to the Millers, who are pretty much just waiting to die. The Fitzgeralds haven’t been wrecked and reamed by life like the Millers, so they still hold on to an innocent optimism that the Millers have long since discarded in favor of fatalist pessimism. When the two team up, there’s still plenty of raunchy comedy to be had, but it’s raunchy comedy with a big dose of surprisingly genuine heart.

A movie like We’re the Millers is all about how many scenes are hits and how many are misses. If you pull off a solid average, then you’ve got a solid movie, and this flick comfortably passes through that threshold with room to spare. In fact, there’s really only one substandard portion in the movie, in the final act after the Miller boy has his testicle bitten by a spider (spoiler alert). At this stage, the Fitzgeralds are swapped out for an illiterate carnie portrayed by an actor who seemed dumber than his character. It appears as though the producers considered removing this entire sequence. There’s a scene where Sudeikis walks into a hospital to speak with the doctor about the venom-stricken boy, and is told that it’s gonna be a while. Then, while Sudeikis and Aniston hang out back in the RV, the girl hooks up with the carnie. This saga goes on for about fifteen minutes, and then there’s a nearly identical scene of Sudeikis walking into the hospital again to be told the boy is A-OK. They could have immediately cut to the second hospital scene fifteen minutes earlier and we would have been none the wiser. This segment, followed by a quite clumsy and abrupt ending, leaves somewhat of a sour taste in your mouth, but the overall experience is still strong.

This is Aniston’s best film in some time, and as such, I feel she may finally be in my league. So Jen, let me tell you a little bit about myself, then perhaps we can set up a date at a local food court? I’m 36, thrice divorced, twice amicably. I clean out my DVR bi-weekly, and have recently cancelled my subscription to Vivid Video’s DVD mailing list (I wasn’t aware you could find comparable content online for the same or even lower monthly fees). And most impressively, I am America’s premier film critic, currently sporting double-digit quarterly readership if you round up liberally. I’ll text you my contact info once my phone rolls over to next month’s billing cycle.

SCORE (Out of 10):
Get Lasik.
Jason Sudeikis is officially a big shot
By: Steve Loori
We're the Millers image
Miller High Life missed out on an ingenious marketing campaign

Let me start by saying that I have not been into Saturday Night Live for the past decade or so. I think I have given a similar rant on here in the past. I have often felt, and I’m not alone in that thought, that the show peaked in the 90’s and has been gradually coming down ever since, like a bell curve. Except it was really good in the 70’s and early 80’s too. During the mid-80’s SNL hit rock bottom, but it picked back up with a new, exciting, funny cast. The most interesting thing about the current state of Saturday Night Live is that while the show is not churning out a ton of hit sketches, it continues to pump out major league comedy talents. Tina Fey, Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Andy Samberg, Bill Hader, and Jimmy Fallon are just some of the more recent stars to rise up from the ashes of SNL. Most recently, Jason Sudeikis has been on the rise. Sudeikis has been an integral piece of the laugh factor in a few funny movies of late – Hall Pass and Horrible Bosses really put him on the map. But he has never carried the load in a movie by himself, as he always finds himself sharing screen time with other lead actors. He has never been the guy. We’re the Millers is the chance for Sudeikis to step up to the plate and see how he handles a major release. Would he hit it out of the park, like Seth Rogen’s first lead role in Knocked Up, or would he strike out, like Jeremy Piven’s first starring role in the post-Ari Gold era Keeping Up with the Stein’s (or The Goods)? Some people, like Piven, are great depth actors, but should never be the head honcho. You can never be sure if an actor can swim until he jumps in the water. Which kind of actor is Sudeikis? Is he the Dana Carvey or the Mike Myers?

We’re the Millers opens up with David Clark (Sudeikis) working as a low-end drug dealer. David gives off the appearance that he is happy, but an early movie meet-up with an old college friend, played by the always funny Thomas Lennon, shows how miserable everyday life really is for the main character. Shortly after this realization, David has interactions with the other three integral characters to the movie: Rose (Jennifer Aniston, who still has it goin’ on), Kenny (Will Poulter), and Casey (Emma Roberts). The interactions lead to David getting all of his money and drugs stolen by a group of no-good thugs. This unfortunate event pushes David to go back to his big-time drug lord with his tail between his legs to plead for his life. This drug lord is the terrifying enforcer, Ed Helms. Helms goes out of his way to be unlikeable, and he comes off as a fun-loving prick, which is perfect for the rich-guy character that does not think rules of the law or codes of ethics apply to him. It’s almost like a James Spader character. Helms sends Sudeikis to pick up “a smidge” of drugs in Mexico for him as a favor, which will exonerate Sudeikis in the eyes of Helms and keep the boss from ending committing murder. Down on his luck, David sees a man in an RV referred to as “real-life Flanders” who is lost in Denver while on an RV trip with his family. Seeing how a policeman calmly helps the innocent family along their way, David finds himself inspired to smuggle drugs across the border and hatches a masterful plan to get the job done. David brings a group of misfits consisting of a loser (Kenny), a homeless girl (Casey), and a hot stripper (Rose) to act like a loving family on a road trip to sneak by the law with what turns out to be an unbelievably large amount of drugs. Hilarity ensues. Unbeknownst to this fake family, they are actually double-crossing a Mexican drug cartel for Helms. Even more hilarity ensues while the “family” winds up in pretty dangerous situations.

To be quite honest, I did not think We’re the Millers would be very funny when I saw the trailer. I saw Sudeikis trying to break free of his supporting roles, and I was gun shy. I forgot for a moment how affable Jason Sudeikis really is, and why I enjoyed Hall Pass and Horrible Bosses so much. From the moment We’re the Millers begins, you get to see how relatable Jason Sudeikis is to the average moviegoer. Now, it could help that I am a suburban white male – that may be why Sudeikis speaks to me the way that Nirvana was able to speak to young, angst-filled teens who could not handle hair metal or organized sports. I am probably a shining example of the Sudeikis target audience. That fact is integral though, because I am the one reviewing We’re the Millers, with my personal worldview and my very own barometer of merriment.

So what made We’re the Millers funny? In a word, Sudeikis. Everything he said throughout the movie came across as natural, like the things you or your friends would say if put into a similar situation causing your whole jolly band of rebel rousers to laugh hysterically. It’s like all of the best jokes your friends could make, with Jason Sudeikis as the conduit, delivering them back to all of our welcoming ears and grinning faces. It took me a little while after seeing it to pin down exactly what humanized Sudeikis, and I think I found it. It was his casual use of cursewords that did not sound like they were written for him. Instead, he brandished them with vigor and realism, the way you or I would use them while in the company of our closest confidants. They were there as space fillers as he worked out funny jokes, they were there with emphasis when something bad happened, and they were there when he was flustered and quite frankly had no other words. Sudeikis curses the way anyone in the real word curses, which also shows that he was able to improvise many lines with true comedic sincerity, a trait that will always translate to funny scenes in any movie.

We’re the Millers was carried by Jason Sudeikis, but he was not the only funny aspect of the movie. The surrounding members of his family were not bad; they had their share of funny points, but most moments were hogged by Sudeikis, which was fine for the most part. Unfortunately, there were points where the three of them simply did not bring enough to the table, which slowed down the pace of the comedy. Outside of that core group, a lot of funny characters came into the paths of this mock-family. Beyond the aforementioned Thomas Lennon, Ken Marino, Mark L. Young, and Luis Guzman all stood out in very funny scenes, stealing the limelight from Sudeikis for a little while. On the other hand, Ed Helms was a little bit overbearing with his character, similarly to the character he played in all three Hangover films. Most notably, though, this faux family met another family on an RV trip while they were coming back to our great nation, and they stood out with exceptional comedy. Nick Offerman (Deputy Chief Hardy from 21 Jump Street), Kathryn Hahn, and Molly C. Quinn came together to form the Fitzgerald family. The scenes where the two families interacted provided the funniest moments of We’re the Millers. Ma and Pa Fitzgerald particularly provide some of the lines that will keep you laughing days after the credits stop rolling.

I would be remiss if I did not get a little off topic to mention that one of the most fascinating things about We’re the Millers is the true Hollywood lineage that its cast owns. Upon checking IMDB for the cast’s information, I found that two main facets of the movie are related to Tinseltown royalty. Jason Sudeikis is actually the nephew of Spice World star George Wendt, or if you’re familiar with Cheers, Norm! Emma Roberts, meanwhile, is the niece of some actress named Julia Roberts, but more importantly, she is the daughter of famed Hollywood megastar Eric Roberts! How the villain from the Armand Assante version of The Odyssey could ever create such a sweet and innocent young girl is beyond me, but I’ll tell you, she must have gotten all of her father’s genes and none of her aunt’s because she is attractive and can act. Sorry Julia!

It is something special to see Jason Sudeikis taking over as one of the top funnymen in Hollywood. It might not last forever, and he could fall off the wagon like Will Ferrell, so enjoy the ride while you can America. If you are due for a good laugh, go see We’re the Millers. It’s not perfect and you might be disappointed, as I have built it up pretty high. Sure, the movie has its share of plot troubles and it certainly is not setting a gold standard for creativity, but I sure was caught off guard by how many times I laughed out loud in the theatre. I know it is not a comedy legend, but I thoroughly enjoyed We’re the Millers, and I think you will too.

SCORE (Out of 10):