The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


We're the Millers

We're the Millers clues you in pretty early on that it's going to be a fantasy. The casting and characterizations are the tip-off. Jason Sudeikis plays that old movie trope, the drug dealer with a heart of gold, while Jennifer Aniston is cast as a Hollywood stripper (i.e. the kind who never actually gets naked). Once you realize that it's in full comic fantasy mode, you either go with it and laugh, or realize that it's all kind of hokey and sit there stone-faced. I laughed.

This is the story of David Clark (Sudeikis), a small-time pot dealer. When his stash and cash are stolen, the pusher he works for, Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms), makes him an offer: smuggle a shipment over the Mexican border and all debts will be forgiven. David figures he'll easily get caught by the border patrol, so he persuades his stripper neighbor Rose (Aniston), a homeless girl from around the streets (Emma Roberts), and the 18-year-old dork who lives downstairs (Will Poulter) to pose as his all-American family, the Millers. They'll put the weed in an RV and sail right across. Of course, it doesn't go that simply. David and crew end up being chased by a Mexican drug kingpin, have a series of bizarre encounters with another RV-driving couple (Kathryn Hahn and Nick Offerman), and struggle to keep their guise as a family intact.

We're the Millers is very raunchy in its humor, but very sweet in its nature. (Again, we're in fantasyland here.) The jokes themselves are often sexual or scatological. This is, after all, a movie in which one character has a very unfortunate fate befall his testicle. Gags about wife-swapping, sexual malfunctions, and tampons also make prominent appearances. Yet underneath all that is a tale about a bunch of wacky misfits who secretly yearn for the kind of normality some people would take for granted. As their journey moves forward, the Millers find themselves assuming the characteristics of a real family. David and Rose develop a sense of parental protectiveness toward their “kids,” Casey and Kenny. Life lessons are learned by all. In some ways, this is the movie's best, if admittedly most obvious, joke: even complete screw-ups can find a sense of belonging when thrown together with other screw-ups.

That the film works is largely due to the performers, who bring great comedic energy to their roles. Sudeikis and Aniston (who also starred together in Horrible Bosses) have sharp chemistry. They play off one another very effectively, creating a bickering couple who don't realize they're becoming just like husband and wife. The supporting actors steal the show, though. Will Poulter (Son of Rambow) is hilarious as the dorky, insecure Kenny. Whether he's rapping to TLC's “Waterfalls” or awkwardly learning how to kiss from an inappropriate source, Poulter earns big laughs. So do Hahn and Offerman. Their characters – a couple of whiter-than-white conservatives with a hidden wild streak – are a bit cliché, yet the performers manage to bring something fresh through offbeat line readings and distinct physical mannerisms. A young actor named Mark L. Young elicits some of the biggest laughs, playing a moronic hip-hop teenager who starts a fling with Casey.

As with many raunchy comedies, the humor in We're the Millers can be hit-or-miss. Some jokes hit the bullseye, while others you see telegraphed a mile away. (If you've seen the red band trailer, you've had some of best bits spoiled.) The movie is also about twenty minutes too long. After a while, we kind of know where it's going; a swifter wrap-up would have helped. In the end, though, I wasn't terribly bothered by the obvious machinations of the plot or the lighthearted depiction of seedy things in We're the Millers. The cast is terrific, and enough of the jokes worked to satisfy me. There's nothing here you haven't seen before, but those things are done sufficiently well to make the movie good for a few laughs.

( out of four)

Blu-Ray Features:

We're the Millers
We're the Millers - Own it on Blu-Ray November 19!

We're the Millers will be available on DVD and in a Blu-Ray combo pack on November 19. There are roughly 45 minutes of bonus materials contained on the Blu-Ray. They aren't particularly in-depth, but they're still fun to watch.

“Millers Unleashed - Outtakes Overload” focuses on the need to cast actors who could improvise, and shows how they tried different lines to give director Rawson Marshall Thurber plenty of options in the editing room. Here, you'll see different variations on some of the film's jokes.

“Behind the Scenes: Stories From the Road” is a making-of feature broken up into seven different chapters, each one concentrating on something specific from the production. “Extreme Aniston” is about the star shaking up her image by doing raunchy humor and playing a stripper. (The cast heartily approves.) “The Miller Makeovers” looks at costume choices for the characters, before and after they band together for their ruse. “Road Trippin' with the Millers” has the cast reminiscing about the claustrophobia of filming inside a fake RV. “Don't Suck Venom,” meanwhile, is dedicated to the sequence in which young Kenny experiences an unfortunate spider bite. (Sadly, we do not learn how a prosthetic body part was created.) A cameo from Luis Guzman is the focus of “Getting Out of a Sticky Situation,” while “I Am Pablo Chicone” is a pointless montage of the actors saying the name of the story's villain. Finally, “Rollin' in the RV” is yet another one about the Millers' mode of transportation. None of these are especially detailed, but they do offer up some amusing moments with the cast goofing around.

“Behind the Scenes: Livin' It Up with Brad” is a look at the character played by Ed Helms. In the film, he's obsessed with Orcas, and we find out that a real whale-shaped piano was hauled from Poland to Wilmington, North Carolina to use as set dressing, and that Helms learned a little ice sculpture for the role. “Behind the Scenes: When Paranoia Sets In” is an unfunny 3-minute bit in which the actors are interviewed and pretend that the whole movie is a scheme to smuggle real pot into the U.S.

The disc also houses about 16 minutes of deleted scenes, notable for three different versions of the scene with the Mexican cop plus a cameo from musician Ben Folds, and a short outtake reel in which we see more alternate takes.

Last, but certainly not least, We're the Millers is presented on Blu-Ray in an extended cut that runs eight minutes longer and adds several new scenes, including one with Kathryn Hahn and Nick Offerman. All told, this package will be pleasing to viewers who want to laugh at the movie's unabashed silliness again and again.

We're the Millers is rated R for crude sexual content, pervasive language, drug material and brief graphic nudity. The running time is 1 hour and 50 minutes.

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