Bob Balaban's dark comic horror about a young boy suspecting his suburban parents to be cannibals
On Film4: 7 Dec 12:40AM
A New York drug dealer recruits a stripper, a teenage runaway and a dorky kid from his block to pose as his family in a bid to smuggle a trailer full of marijuana back across the Mexican border. Starring Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts and Will Poulter.
A recurring problem with films starring ex-Saturday Night Live actors is that they tend to feel a bit sketchy. Such is the case with We’re The Millers, in which former SNL regular Jason Sudeikis plays David, a self-centred drug dealer who goes on a marijuana smuggling road trip with a fake family he hires to make himself look more respectable to the Mexican border guards. En route, they encounter a variety of potentially comic set-ups, some of which pay off, some of which don’t – a bit like in most sketch shows and, indeed, Dodgeball, which is perhaps director Rawson Marshall Thurber's most famous work to date.
The 'family' is made up of jaded stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston, playing it dirty), teenage runaway Casey (Emma ‘Niece of Julia’ Roberts) and David’s naïve young neighbour, Kenny, played by the chameleonic Will Poulter, previously seen sporting his native English accent in Wild Bill and Son Of Rambow, and definitely one to watch. Of course they all hate each other at the start of the journey. And of course they all realize that they actually really love and need each other by the end of the film. That’s a given with this sort of road movie; it’s the getting there that counts. It’s just a shame that the ‘getting there’ section wasn’t a bit better thought out in the script. The dialogue smacks of over-improvisation and the plot starts to sag before we're even half way through. There are some funny moments - the scene in which David and Rose accidentally become swingers with a seemingly wholesome all-American couple is a highlight - but the laughs are too few and far between.
The cast, on the whole, do a good job of making what are essentially a bunch of two-dimensional stereotypes come across as reasonably likeable human beings – albeit ones with sporadically dubious morals. Aniston seems to have chosen the role to prove she’s ‘still got it’, à la Demi Moore in Striptease. While she undoubtedly looks the part, her stripping scenes feel a little uncomfortable, partly because it’s a bit weird watching that nice girl from Friends get her kit off, and partly because the stripping is sometimes used as misjudged tool of empowerment, in a way that will make even the most uncommitted of feminists squirm.
Excessive improvisation and scrappy plotting let down an able cast. There are laughs to be had, but they’re hit and miss and certain scenes will tip over into bad taste territory for some viewers.
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