Thursday, September 12, 2013

We're the Millers

Get out your stacks of Marijuana and RVs, we're reviewing We're the Millers!

When David (Jason Sudeikis) is forced to smuggle a ton of weed from Mexico into the United States, he gets the great idea of posing as a family with his neighbor Rose (Jennifer Aniston), who's a stripper, his other neighbor Kenny (Will Poulter), and a homeless thief, Casey (Emma Roberts). Can they pull off looking like a family long enough to finish the job?

Hey, it's not terrible! I know – I'm just as surprised as you are. But it's really fun, funny and heart-warming with plenty of jokes and a great cast.

Really, the only problem I have with it is the main premise. Y'know, because OF COURSE the main female lead is a stripper. Because male gaze. It couldn't be something even slightly original, like a role reversal – the female lead could be the drug dealer and the male lead could be the stripper! But then again, It's not like strippers are inherently bad, and I think this movie puts strippers in a pretty positive light compared to most movies. Rose is a stripper and she seems to enjoy her job except for the asshole customers and her asshole boss. And she has limits to what she'll do for money, and she's also a complex character. Which is nice. And let's put this into perspective: this is an R-rated movie with plenty of foul language and several scenes in a strip club with ZERO shots of boobs. That is a feat in and of itself. Zero boobs and one penis to be exact! It's especially interesting when you compare it to Riddick which had ALL OF THE BOOBS when it didn't need to. This had the opportunity to do so and took the high road! Progress! (I hope)

The other problem I have with the main premise is OF COURSE the drug dealer and stripper and homeless thief really kind of want a family, and, more precisely, the standard nuclear suburb family that's been a false ideal for decades that's been shoved down the throats of the masses as the one true way to have a family. Because it's not like they could just be happy with the kind of family dynamic they already have or create some entirely new family dynamic, no! It has to be THAT family. It's annoying that, in the year 2013, we're still chasing after that Leave it to Beaver ideal that we could never ever reach in the first place, and that we can't just be happy with new and different family structures. But this is a movie made for the mainstream audience and moms and dads and middle-America and whatnot, so what do you expect?

Once you get past all that and are okay with the the fairly cookie-cutter story, it gets to be a funny film with some heart. Most of that is Sudeikis' performance and spitfire jokes. His character is kind of an asshole, and the moral black hole of the group, but he's always got some great jokes firing a mile a minute. He and Anniston have great chemistry together. She might not be as funny as Sudeikis, but she does have some good jokes here and there and I like how complex her character is. She's really strong and caring and has interests of her own, outside stripping. And then there's Poulter, who plays a hapless Kenny. His character, an idiot virgin, could have been really annoying – but somehow he comes off as sweet and funny. Some of the funniest bits are of all of them swearing through trying to act like a family. I burst out laughing on a number of occasions.

And it has a great supporting cast, notably Don and Edie Fitzgerald (Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn), a couple of neighbor campers who meet the Millers on their travels. Offerman is hilarious as always. We get the added bonus of seeing him beat up drug smugglers. There's also Ed Helms as witless drug kingpin Brad Gurdlinger; Luis Gusman as a Mexican cop; and even Tom Lennon as a jealous married man. 

I also really like how they're all kind of forced into the situation as a last resort, and there's a bunch of tension-filled moments in which they're almost caught. There's just the slightest hint of noir, just enough for me to whet my appetite. NOIR! And then there is the obligatory striptease from Jennifer Aniston, but I guess I don't completely hate it because it was the character's idea instead of being forced upon her, and she uses it to get the drop on guys and STILL doesn't get naked. And hey, Jennifer Aniston strip tease, who doesn't like that? And the movie passes the Bechdel test! Nice!

This film is really funny and cute, and if you don't expect anything too revolutionary, you'll enjoy it, too. I don't know if they have enough to make a sequel, but I wouldn't mind seeing this in a serial format. Then again, I could probably just go back and watch The Riches or Shameless if I really wanted that.

THE GOOD: Funny, fun, heart-warming, great cast, good female characters, Sudeikis's jokes, Nick Offerman being awesome, strippers in good light. 

THE BAD: Cookie cutter story, main premise isn't that original and still sticks to forgotten ideal of nuclear family

THE VERDICT: $$$$ It's pretty great! Go see it! I mean there aren't any big effects you'd be missing if you waited to see it on DVD or streaming services, but it's a pretty great comedy if you're looking for something new to laugh at.

MOVIES LIKE IT: Shameless, The Riches, Horrible Bosses, Little Miss Sunshine, Despicable Me

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: The family is driving in Mexico in the RV when Casey sees fireworks, but David doesn't want to stop. She keeps pushing it and pretty soon the whole family is clattering for fireworks until David stops and yells back, "I WILL TURN THIS RV AROUND AND NO ONE WILL GET ANY MONEY!" It's a pretty great fake family moment. 

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