Review: We’re the Millers (2013 movie)

Jason Sudeikis (a former Saturday Night Live regular perhaps best remembered for his impression of Joe Biden) is a small-time marijuana dealer with a mostly upscale clientele, no friends or family, and questionable ethics. He does have some standards. He won’t sell to kids, for example, and he comes to the help of a neighbor in danger even though he’s not enthusiastic about it.

When his money and drugs are stolen, his supplier (Ed Helms, Stu in the Hangover series) offers Sudeikis a deal: Smuggle some drugs up from Mexico and all will be forgiven, and he’ll get a nice bonus besides. Don’t, and he’s a dead man. Not a hard decision.

The best cover for drug smuggling, he decides, would be a middle-class family in a motor home, and to play his family he recruits a teenager from his building who seems to have been abandoned by his mother, a homeless girl, and a stripper he knows who can’t stand him but seriously needs the money. The stripper is played by Jennifer Aniston, who’s in her mid-40s but seems to have stopped aging 15 or 20 years ago. I wish I’d thought to do that.

In the course of their adventures they keep running into another family, with the mother and father played by Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn, whose faces you’ll probably recognize even if don’t know their names. Offerman in particular plays lots of deadpan Real Man roles in among other things the Parks and Recreation television series and the films 21 Jump Street and 22 Jump Street. (In the latter films he’s the deputy chief who tells the heroes about their new assignment: “We’re reviving a canceled undercover police program from the 80s and revamping it for modern times. You see, the guys in charge of this stuff lack creativity and are completely out of ideas, so they recycle shit from the past and expect us all not to notice.”)

The trip naturally leads to a series of crises and comedy set pieces, but I found many of the supposedly funny bits too strained and implausible to be very funny, and too often they involve embarrassment humor, which even when not so obviously contrived just doesn’t appeal to me. I don’t mean to say the movie is awful, just not as good as I was hoping. But you’d be better off watching 21 or 22 Jump Street.

(Incidentally, despite being set in Mexico and the western U.S., much of it was shot in my old home town, Wilmington NC.)


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