We’re the Millers

There are any numbers of reasons to ignore We’re the Millers, and many more to dismiss it as yet another platform for the world to check in on how Jennifer Aniston’s arse is holding together (very nicely, as it turns out). Like most comedies, we’re inclined to sneer outright unless it fulfils a number of criteria that were established circa 2005. These are:

* Is the comedy listed as “black”, “dark” or “offbeat”?

* Does the comedy include one or more moments of a middle aged man realising something profound about himself, before running to an Arcade Fire soundtrack?

* If the comedy has jokes (not preferable: far too obvious) are they written by someone who once told somebody else to lick their balls in a Judd Apatow movie?

We’re the Millers falls down at every hurdle. But, what it lacks in Guardian-brand brownie points it makes up for in comedy. Broad, filthy and quite-fucking-funny comedy.

Jason Sudeikis plays David, a small-time pot dealer who spends his days cheerfully selling dimebags to bored housewives. When his stash is robbed by some gangsters who look suspiciously like members of The Darkness, his happy-go-lucky demeanour vanishes in favour of abject terror. Bullied by his supplier, Brad Gurdlinger (a brilliant Ed Helms) into picking up a “smidge, smidge and a half” of weed from Mexico, David begins assembling the decoy family that will help him cross the border unnoticed. Hijinks ensue.

Here, Aniston’s comedy chops remain as intact as her pelvic floor muscles, and it’s a joy to see her with something funny to do. While she’s been in and out of quote-unquote comedies for the majority of her career, we’re so used to her as the glossy-haired girlfriend with the occasional snarky line that we forget how much she makes us laugh.

The reliably sour-pussed Emma Roberts is fine, if only because the writers have the good sense not to get too caught up in her inevitably dull storyline. Writers, a note on teenage girls: they have an inevitably dull storyline. We gather that her character has run away from home because “My parents are-.” Sudeikis stops her there, because thankfully, We’re The Millers is one in the four hundred movies Roberts has featured in that doesn’t involve a long, sighing explanation from her on why something “just sucks, y’know?” (Take this from someone who had to review The Art of Getting By during their BFF internship – these moments are plentiful)

Making an excellent US screen debut here (unless you count the Chronicles of Narnia, which I categorically don’t) is Wild Bill‘s Will Poulter, as the hopelessly naive Kenny. Kenny is exactly the kind of role Michael Cera tries his best to turn down, lest no one take his short fiction seriously, but Poulter seems so genuinely pleased to be invited that Kenny becomes a revelation by extension. So much so, that you’ll find yourself googling the lyrics to TLC’s Waterfalls days later.

Fans of American sitcom will find a lot to love here, with cast members from The Office, Parks & Recreation and 30 Rock showing up to pay dues. The movie has all the better qualities of improv comedy, and is always determined to push a gag to its limit.

Yes, they kiss at the end. Yes, this is from the writing team that brought us Sex Drive, which also happens to be in my bottom three cinema experiences of all time. Yes, harder, lonelier film writers will throw the film two stars, and move on to worthier things. But mostly, We’re the Millers is a bit of a laugh.*

*Author’s note: yes, a “We’re the Millers is a roadtrip comedy we all want to get on board with” closing line did seem inevitable.

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