The director of Dodgeball working with a script co-written by the Hot Tub Time Machine guys starring Jason "Funniest Man In The World" Sudeikis and Jennifer "Screw The Critics, She's Always Funny" Anniston should be a straight-shoot to a golden film, one that is short and swift and always funny mainly by avoiding the obvious territory and mining some much darker things. We're The Millers is not that good. It's not even good enough to satisfy someone during a drought of funny films this year. The story of a drug dealer getting a gang of society's lessers and making a fake family to hide a mass of weed being smuggled into the country has potential, but it likes to solely play on road trip family comedy notions and structure, so rigidly so that the film finds itself continuing long down the road after the audience has gotten off the RV.
A stripper is now a mother, a down-home sweet nuclear family mother, a drug dealer now the upstanding father, an aggressive runaway now a teen daughter whilst a teen boy is now a teen boy. Get it? It's polar opposites almost, and the one weirdo caught in the lie. Now, the sarcasm would go away had the script found ways to rise above the obvious jokes and hit layers upon layers of jokes involving the obvious stupidity of the situation, but instead the film coasts on what the audience can anticipate. The audience, then, will laugh because they got the joke right, but realise "Hey, if I thought of that joke too, why am I paying to see a film I could write?" It's a problem that persists through the film.
Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn and Molly Quinn appear as a real sweet family in an RV that make friends with the Millers on various points of the trip. The Millers decide to try to forcefully remove them from the situation with rudeness, despite trying to maintain a semblance of sweetness, and then end up camping out with them. What could happen with a night around the campfire? Pictionary turning into saying the word penis or worse loudly, a scene of swinging and sister and mother Miller teaching young brother how to kiss. That's the level we're working at here, nothing mind-blowing, nothing truly original or inventive. Just...lazy. If you want a great pictionary-based joke, here's one from Community that closed the book on them.
The cast is all perfectly adequete in the film, Anniston and Sudeikis perform fine, Will Poulter's American accent is strong, Emma Roberts is unremarkable, but nobody finds a way to rise above the material, and whilst Sudeikis may be the funniest man on the planet, he can't be as funny as he is when having to drive the film from dramatic point to dramatic point. His silly non-sequiters just have no impact when uttered at the moment his character is meant to be having a serious moment. And that's a problem, what is the point of having a man able to burst anyone into hysterics in your film is you use him for audience connection as well? As good as Jason Sudeikis is, he needs a straighter man by his side, one who has the film on their shoulders so Sudeikis can just say a thousand funny things and make you cry tears of laughter. Supporting actors like Thomas Lennon, Ken Marino and Ed Helms pop up and fail to make a meal out of their one or two scenes, and at that point it begins to feel that the focus of the film isn't on the comedy at all, but on a character who is only half-baked in Jason Sudeikis' David.
We're The Millers, alas, is an undeniably underwelming film, between choppy editing and a structure that to's and fro's from the plot like a newton's cradle, sometimes close to the other balls, sometimes out doing its own thing away from them, the lack of focus and strong characters and punch-lines and anything other than "Sweet family is actually vulgar rag-tag group who hate each-other". 5 minute sketch, sure, maybe even a 20 minute short, but running close to 2 hours, 2 hours!, We're The Millers so often falls flat on its face to a crowd waiting to laugh, wanting to laugh, and failing to even smile. In a year of bad comedy, We're The Millers fits right in. Disappointing, wasteful, dull. If you're going to watch one Hollywood product about an RV, drugs and a facade of suburban family, don't make it this one.