There are generally two types of surprises that come out of Hollywood. Either a promising blockbuster with a stellar cast bombs at the box office, or a film released with little to no fanfare exceeds all expectations.
“We’re The Millers” is one such pleasant surprise. While its silly trailers and bizarre premise suggest a disposable bit of dumb slapstick, director Rawson Marshall Thurber’s film is unexpectedly smart and undeniably funny.
Local pot dealer David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) enjoys a comfortable life in a booming industry. But when his stash is stolen in a back alley brawl, his richest buyer Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms) offers him a job to make up for his losses: go to Mexico and smuggle “a smidge and a half” of weed across the border.
In order to get past security without raising suspicion, David decides to go undercover as a family man, bribing his stripper neighbor Rose (Jennifer Aniston) to play his wife, perky neighborhood kid Kenny (Will Poulter) to be his son, and homeless punk Casey (Emma Roberts) to be his daughter. Avoiding border security, though, becomes the least of their problems when they realize that Brad’s “smidge” is actually two tons of weed. By David’s calculations, it’s “enough to kill Willie Nelson,” and it belongs to international drug dealer Pablo Chacon (Tomer Sisley), who will kill anyone who stops him from getting it back.
The plot may sound dumb on paper or in trailers, but it actually plays a lot better on screen. The script is genuinely funny and employs actual wit instead of cheap sight gags (probably because the film credits a whopping four screenwriters). It hits all of the stereotypical tourist family gags; from the preppy clothing to the “don’t make me turn this RV around” threats, which Sudeikis delivers with winning sarcasm.
In an obvious comedic trope, these misfits eventually begin to act and feel like a real family, but their affection is well-earned and the strong character development is a testament to the talented cast.
Of course, there is the obligatory (and largely unnecessary) awkwardness, such as an encounter with a gay Mexican cop and another tourist family overly eager to help when the Millers’ RV breaks down. Even the opening sequence—a random montage of viral YouTube videos—has little to no relevance to the story.
In spite of this, “We’re The Millers” is a largely entertaining, surprisingly well-written comedy with a solid cast. So it should come as no shock that it may be one of this summer’s sleeper comedy hits.
*** out of five