Before anything, “We're the Millers” is basically a road trip comedy movie starring Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis. You stick a group of people in an automobile and move them from point A to B. Along the way, hilarity ensues. Thus, it is a throwback to the road trip movies of the 80s and early 90s.
Think about “National lampoon’s Vacation” series. “We're the Millers” updates this movie sub-genre with incorporating the raunchy comedy genre elements.
However, the latter is just seasoning to the former in “We're the Millers”. You should not expect to see a raunchy comedy movie although there are some raunchy scenes. The current raunchy comedy trend is to movie from one raunchy joke to another. Thus, a movie has about 30 jokes with about half of them missing their mark. In “We're the Millers”, there are only about 10 outright jokes throughout the whole movie and most of them hit their mark. The rest of the move is filled with humorous but not outright funny scenes. In that sense, it has the timing of a dramady although it does not have enough drama to actual be one.
In that way, it is similar to the movies Steve Martin did during the 80s and early 90s. Those movies hinged upon the charm of the actors and their dynamic interaction with jokes used as flavoring.
In that sense, “We're the Millers” works. In this movie, Jason Sudeikis is a small time drug dealer forced to go to Mexico to smuggle a butt-load of marijuana across the borders. In order to blend in and not get detected crossing the border, he recruits a fake family and loads them up on a RV for a 3 day round trip. The plot in this movie is only an excuse to bring these people together. The fact that you don not actually miss there not being more plot shows how well the cast works with each other. Even from the beginning, you believe that these people could be a family.
For this movie, family is defined according to sitcom rules set in the suburbs not a family in reality. In many movies, this definition of family could make the movie shallow. However, in “We're the Millers”, this actually works well within the context of the movie. All the characters in the fake Miller family are slightly deviated versions of those sitcom family members. They are people who fit right in to those sitcom families but life had somehow not provided them with those families biologically. Thus, they are lost and slightly deviant in the nature. I mean, you have a drug dealer, a stripper, a street hoodlum, and an odd neglected boy.
So, once you get these characters together, you get them naturally falling into their sitcom roles as goofy father, caring but slightly wild mother, slutty but caring daughter, kind but shy son.
For the audience, it is a joy seeing them going through this process and liking it as it was what they were meant to be without the baggage of an actual biological family. Also, the jokes, which are sprinkled throughout the movie, are actually funny although not ground breaking.
This description of the movie may give an impression of the movie being more sophisticated than it is actually is. Most of the stuff I said before is more hinted in the performances and not the pages of the script. It is the actors’ chemistry that brings things out of the movie rather than the movie brings things out of the actors. The movie just does not get in the way except for one scene.
The strip scene which has been forefront in all the trailers is awkwardly situated in the middle of the movie and actually stops the movie for a minute. Thankfully, it is over in no time.
“We're the Millers” is a comedy movie with a relaxed tempo and a broad sense of humor. While there is some raunchiness, at its core, it is not an edgy comedy. It is a funny lite weight comedy reminiscent of movies too decades ago during the glory days of comedy movies. If you like that period or your taste in humor is not limited to more cutting comedy, you will enjoy this movie.
The score is a solid B-