Friday, January 3, 2014

Movie Review : We're the Millers (2013)


The last thing you want to do in a social situation is watch a movie. Two (or more) people who don't necessarily share tastes in art will automatically choose the most bland, noncommittall movies that should've never existed, spend two hours (and maybe some hard-earned money) on it and stumble away, convincing themselves they had a decent evening. A few weeks ago, Josie and I spent the evening with her sister who (God bless her) might be the sweetest person who ever lived south of Nelson Mandela, but I'm the farthest thing removed from that and Josie is kind of an in-between. So we spent about half an hour browsing our VOD before settling on WE'RE THE MILLERS and it was like having a meal of flour, corn starch and raw sugar.

See, the premise is silly, yet a little suspicious. Lazy but kind-hearted pot dealer David (Jason Sudeikis) gets mugged and robbed of all his money for defending his dorky, harmless young neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter). His supplier Brad (the hilarious and underrated Ed Helms) offers him to mule mexican dope into the U.S to settle his account with him. Desperate, David has an idea: he'll recruit a ''family'' and rent an RV to help carry his plan beyond suspicions. His wife will be neighbor and stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), his daughter will be local runaway Casey (Emma Roberts) and loyal Kenny signs up to play the son. They're the Millers, on their way to Mexico to load an RV with cartel dope. Shenanigans ensue.

WE'RE THE MILLERS is actually funny. I laughed out loud once or two, marveled at the quality of the writing maybe three times in all and smiled my way throughout. It was the kind of smile that makes your mouth hurt by the time the credits roll. It's funny, but it's vapidly funny. See, enduring comedies laugh at something. THE BIG LEBOWSKI laughs at classic detective movies. The Kevin Smith movies laugh at the directionless youth of the 90s. WE'RE THE MILLERS laughs at nothing in particular. It's a series of jokes loosely wrapped around the narrative. It's telling a not-so-compelling story about lonely people not getting what life is rally about and most times, it gets genuinely confused at whether it should go on with what it's trying to say or make me laugh. So most times WE'RE THE MILLERS is stuck in a ''it's kind of funny but not really'' quandary.

Major selling point of the movie.

The Jennifer Aniston strip scene was used to market WE'RE THE MILLERS and will ultimately be what the movie will be reminded for. She's a gorgeous woman, but I'm not fourteen years old and a three minutes, family-friendly strip scene doesn't move the needle for me. If anything, it embodies the ongoing confusion of the movie. It's banking on a stunning female co-star, yet she looks like a hot soccer mom more than a stripper and she never leaves the safety of a bikini-like underwear. The bizarro screenplay enforces that money is a vapid pursuit, yet it has four struggling working-class americans for lead characters. WE'RE THE MILLERS claims that family is an unstoppable force, yet doesn't live up to what it says. * By the time the credits roll, you feel like you've been hypnotized by an evil salesman and sold a miniature dry ice machine for your car or something in that league of useless.

The actors' performance range from decent to very good. Jason Sudeikis  is the only cast member that lives up to the moral gray line WE'RE THE MILLERS ultimately fails to establish. Ed Helms ** and Nick Offerman are solid, yet their parts are so one-dimensional and their screen time is so limited, they struggle to stand out and take command. WE'RE THE MILLERS has elements of a good movies like elements of a good meal (hene my strange analogy in the introduction), yet it never forms something coherent and genuinely uproarious like BRIDESMAIDS or THE HANGOVER series did in recent memory. It's one of these movies that has been written and produce to please everybody a little and not sweep anybody off their feet. It won't kill you, but it will leave you wondering if it tasted anything.

* To be honest, WE'RE THE MILLERS was ill-suited as a movie. It could've pulled off its point being a television series. Its format its cruelly short for the complexity of its point about moral values. It's a bit clumsy and convoluted too don't get me wrong. 

** I don't know why Ed Helms isn't a bigger draw than he is. The guy is a comedic acting genuis. The only reason I could find why he didn't have a leading part yet is that he looks like a guy you would borrow $20 from and never pay back.

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