We’re the Millers is the kind of laugh till it hurts, spit-take funny, doubling over in your seat comedy that lesser films can only aspire to. It’s not just the best comedy of the year — it’s one of the best in at least a decade.
The premise is a brilliant modern take on National Lampoon’s Vacation with a raunchier edge and a creative spin on the family road trip formula.
David Clark (Jason Sudekis, Hall Pass) is a moderately successful pot dealer. He leads a carefree life of dealing, watching TV and trying to flirt with his neighbor, Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a stripper at a local bar.
David tries to stop some thieves from robbing teen runaway Casey (Emma Roberts, Scream 4) and beating up Kenny (Will Poulter), an awkward virgin who also lives in David’s apartment building, but he quickly regrets his good deed as the crooks steal his weed, putting him in debt to his drug kingpin boss, Brad (Ed Helms, The Hangover Part III). I loved the casting of Helms as a way to show to audiences that he and Sudekis are in fact different people despite their similar appearances.
David agrees to settle the debt by transporting a large weed shipment. Figuring he’s got a better chance of clearing customs under the pretense of a family vacation, David recruits Rose, Casey and Kenny to play his family — The Millers.
Sudekis has been a consistently strong supporting player, but here he pretty much guarantees he won’t have to settle with playing second fiddle again as he delivers a winning performance reminiscent of a young Clark Griswold that should signal his arrival to headliner status.
Aniston, who proved a raunchy comedy revelation in Horrible Bosses, is again in fine form and with several stripper routines is becoming a bigger sex symbol than when Friends kicked off her popularity in 1994.
Roberts and Poulter could have been disposal supporting players relegated to the background, but they’re strong and make their characters just as essential. The film finds a surprisingly kinder, gentler side as the faux family begins to bond over evading rival drug lords and enduring the overly helpful Fitzgerald family — Don and Edie (Park and Recreation’s Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn) and daughter Melissa (Molly Quinn, Superman: Unbound).
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber, who disappointingly is just now getting to his third film after his 2004 breakout comedy, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, shows his sense of comedic timing hasn’t diminished during his absence.
Thurber keeps a reasonably restrained approach to what could easily have been a dumb comedy if he let it get too out of control with an over reliance on slapstick bits and R-rated elements completely lacking in subtlety.
The script, penned by a 2000s-era all-star team of Sex Drive, She’s Out of My League and Hot Tub Time Machine screenwriters Sean Anders and John Morris and Wedding Crashers collaborators Bob Fisher and Steve Faber, amazingly doesn’t run out of gas midway through.
Just when you worry it’s peaked too quickly, they add another layer and characters to keep the laughs coming without grasping at stupid subplots to stretch the story out longer. And they even make the predictable, but necessary ending work without feeling too forced.
We’re the Millers will keep you laughing from start to finish to post-credit blooper reel and I can’t wait to see it again.