We’re The Millers (2013)

Untitled-1Do adults think more like adults, or children? I can’t find the distinction anymore. I used to think that adults wrote adult material for other adults. But I have since come to realise that maybe we write adult material for adults who think they think like adults. Bear with me here. We’re The Millers is a perfect example of how jokes and gags written for adults are not mature on any level. They’re immature ideas scribbled onto sheets of paper, and they lack so much taste that children won’t be able to enjoy them either. They’re jokes written for adults, but they don’t belong to anybody.

Take this scene for example. It comes midway through the movie so the story and characters have already been set up. More or less. The boy Kenny has just missed an opportunity to kiss the girl he likes because he’s shy. Back in his “family’s” RV, his “sister” tries to comfort him by giving him kissing lessons — “Okay that was good! But this time I want you to choke me a little”. Then his “mother” comes in and gives him a few lessons as well. He starts exchanging kisses between the both of them while his “father” watches and takes pictures. Lo and behold, the girl he likes accidentally enters the RV and catches him red, umm, tongued. And wouldn’t you guess it, she freaks the hell out.

Here is a gag that pays itself off before it’s even been set up. I can imagine the writers huddled around a table going, “Alright guys, I think it would be hilarious to have this girl walk in on Kenny thinking he’s having an incestuous relationship with his entire family. Now how do we put him in this situation?”. And then unanimously, they decide on him learning how to kiss. From two different women. At the same time. The end result is funny, but the idea behind it is infantile.

The plot is as follows: David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) is a small time drug dealer from Denver who has to retrieve a shipload of marijuana from Mexico in order to settle a debt. His plan is to pose as a family going on vacation in an RV, the perfect stealth vehicle for drug smuggling. He ropes in his flatmates — Kenny (Will Poulter), who looks as if his eyebrows have been pulled two inches too high, stretching the rest of his face along with them, Rose, a stripper who’s realised that Jennifer Aniston is too old to be playing a stripper, and the homeless girl on his street Casey (Emma Roberts) — to be his son, wife, and daughter respectively.

It’s a good plan. It’s an original plan. But maybe it’s pulled off too easily. The quartet drive into and out of Mexico within half an hour of the movie. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a success. Roll the credits. They smoothen out their rough edges with each other without so much as a kick to the shin or a slap in the face. It’s as if they know that by the end of the movie they’ll all have to live in the same house and pretend to be a real family for the rest of their lives, which is what they end up doing in the movie’s painfully contrived closing scene.

The movie is loaded with one-stop jokes and gags, most of which relate to penises, testicles, breasts, vaginas, and anuses. There’s a scene involving a crooked Mexican cop (Luis Guzman) and his inappropriate bribe request. There’s a Pictionary game in the woods that turns a skateboard into a pun of Black Hawk Down (the drawing looks nothing like a skateboard). Poor Kenny gets his testes bitten by a tarantula. The resulting swelling is hideous. There’s a lot of talk of anal sex and loose vaginas. And there’s an awkward moment in a tent that involves breast-grabbing and ear-poking. Doesn’t sound like a movie for grown ups does it?

Jason Sudeikis is about the movie’s only strong point. He plays a man stuck in a preposterous situation but doesn’t seem preposterous playing him. It’s as if he understands that the jokes aren’t funny, and so he mocks himself with a dose of seriousness to lighten the mood. And it works. But still, I go back to the humour of We’re The Millers being too juvenile even for lazy adults. I laughed a few times, but only a few, and always because of Sudeikis. When the movie continued after the half hour mark, after the quartet had already succeeded in their plan, I found the rest of it to be about as entertaining as Jennifer Aniston’s striptease. And it wasn’t.

Best Moment | The “Friends” reference during the end credits.

Worst Moment | The striptease. Or Kenny’s rap in the RV. What in the hell. Oh yes, and killer whales aren’t whales, geniuses.

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