Considering We’re the Millers poses as a raunchy R-rated comedy, it repeatedly plays it safe. It’s tame, predictable, and only intermittently funny.
David (Jason Sudeikis, Horrible Bosses) is a drug dealer who serves the desperate population of greater suburbia. You undoubtedly know the types. Restaurant workers, housewives, mothers, and other innocuous members of society who need their fix in order to escape that ugly thing called reality.
David’s a dealer in Denver, the Mile High City. But Denverites have absolutely no reason to get excited. Aside from a couple establishing shots of Denver International Airport, the movie was shot in North Carolina and New Mexico. Take Colorado Governor Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Hancock to task on the failings of an allegedly resurgent film commission that has seen this movie and Identity Thief (also with characters based in Denver) filmed elsewhere.
Maybe it’s just as well. Neither movie’s very good.
And this one, with its storyline of pot dealing and smuggling, should make for more than a dime’s worth of hay given Mary Jane’s legalization. But. No. This movie just ain’t that clever.
When a raunchy movie’s sole moment of true-grit raunchiness involves a teenage boy’s swollen genitalia (by way of a tarantula bite), consider it a dud doobie.
The real bummer, dude, is that this movie isn’t even stupid, really. And that’s disappointing given director Rawson Marshall Thurber made a masterpiece of stupid comedy with Dodgeball several years ago.
Anyway, David’s a drug dealer who gets mugged on the mean streets of Denver and loses a significant stash of drugs to what he would later describe as the cast of Annie. They were certainly a band of misfits, and the instigation of the theft involved a neighbor boy named Kenny (Will Poulter, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), a chivalrous virgin who seeks to protect the virtues of a semi-homeless, sorta-runaway chick, albeit one sporting an iPhone. She’s Casey (Emma Roberts, Nancy Drew).
Throw in his stripper neighbor, Rose (Jennifer Aniston, TV’s Friends, Horrible Bosses, and a number of other horrible movies) who’d normally not even give David the time of day were it not for the fact that she was evicted after her boyfriend left her in the lurch and failed to pay the rent and… um… her stripper employer instituted a new policy requiring the erotic dancers perform sexual favors in return for money in order to compete with the new Apple store across the street… well, you can begin to see the enormity of the lameness.
Needless to say, David’s inspired by a family of tourists visiting Denver and he manages to bring the aforementioned rag-tag group together and form the Miller family in order to fly down to Tucson, rent an RV, then drive in to Mexico in order to extract a “smidge” of pot for David’s drug overlord and thereby get David back in good graces, so to speak.
It’s an easy-in, not-so-easy-out situation.
Given the pedigree of Thurber and a quartet of scribes who have Wedding Crashers, Hot Tub Time Machine, Sex Drive, and episodes of Married with Children to their “credit,” this one lacks bite. Some social commentary would’ve been so easy to slip into the joint. But. No.
Okay. It’s supposed to be a comedy so maybe it’s asking too much for social commentary involving Denver, iPhones, drugs, and the state of suburbia and the American nuclear family. That’d involve smarts and it’s hard to be smart when stupid’s a big enough challenge.
But, while exiting the theatre, there was the gnawing feeling of yet another missed opportunity. The story involves a guy – a complete and utter solo act with no family ties of significance – creating his own family in order to accomplish a dubious mission. From the very beginning, it’s clear how that’s going to end. To use the term “nauseating warm fuzzies” shouldn’t be considered a spoiler-buster.
But what if – and it’s a big ol’ but – what if the lesson learned was more along the lines of “you can’t pick your family – and maybe that’s a good thing”? Think of the vicious humor that could’ve been thrown in with a theme like that.
Oh well. As it stands, We’re the Millers is simply another Hollywood comedy that goes up in smoke.