They’re the Millers, and they’re not that bad

This article first appeared on Film Blerg.

On face value, Rawson Marshall Thurber‘s We’re the Millers doesn’t look like a particularly sharp film. Were one to judge it purely by the marketing campaign, it would be safe to assume it were merely another let’s-put-a-bunch-of-misfits-together narrative, giving an ageing Jennifer Aniston one final opportunity to show off her body.

Those two assumptions are safe. All other assumptions, however, are best disregarded. That’s because We’re the Millers is actually a good film. Well, it’s funny at least.

The Millers are a surprisingly loveable family.

The Millers are a surprisingly loveable family.

While it’s not quite The HangoverWe’re the Millersnevertheless out-rates anything either of the Farrelly Brothers have created in the past decade. Why I mention this duo is that We’re the Millers shares many similarities with their 1998 classic There’s Something About Mary. It’s crude and distasteful, yet strangely heartwarming.

We’re the Millers follows the story of drug-dealer David Clark (Jason Sudeikis), who is forced by his callous boss (an over-acting Ed Helms) to smuggle marijuana across the Mexican border. In order to trick coastguard officials, Clark recruits local residents Rose (Aniston), Kenny (Will Poulter), and Casey (Emma Roberts) to become his stand-in family.

It’s a ridiculous premise, but one that gets the audience into the right frame of mind. The events of We’re The Millers would never take place in reality, but that’s all part of the fun.

Two things lift We’re the Millers above other recent comedies. First of all, the characters are strong and distinct. In particular, Poulter delivers a fantastic performance as the perennially daggy yet earnest Kenny. Its easy for the audience to feel comfortable around Kenny, enabling even the lowest-common denominator jokes that surround his character to attract laughs.

Secondly, the jokes are very regular, with every scene providing something memorable. I’d be flattering the writers to call the script clever, given the quantity of gags revolving around genitals and homo-eroticism. With that said, the team of writers have evidently done something right, finding the right balance between outrageous shock tactics and character-based humour.

Even when the film does get somewhat sentimental – seemingly an inevitability for all films of this genre – it maintains its vibe. Clark and his fake daughter retain their potty mouth in all scenes, while Aniston’s Rose displays the same sassiness exhibited in much of her prior filmography.

We’re the Millers is essentially everything an irreverent comedy should be. Just don’t be fooled by the ads.