“We’re the Millers ... in case anyone asks.” It’s true that you can’t choose your relatives—most of mine would have been exchanged years ago—but you can choose your family, sort of. That’s the basis of this hilarious, rib-tickling story featuring the Millers, an inventive collection of flawed, interesting and compassionate characters that I “kind of-sort-of” wish I knew.
The journey starts with David Burke, played by Jason Sudeikis—an actor who is a new breed of straight man and sidekick all rolled into one snarky, lovable package. David is a very small-time weed dealer who makes the lives of middle-management executives and bored soccer moms a bit sweeter. He has no family and has relinquished bad feelings about his profession, opting instead to live comfortably in the moral gray area; in his mind, he’s just helping stressed-out people smooth out the rough patches of life.
So what could go wrong? Plenty! When he’s unable to pay for a recent shipment after being robbed by a trio of soft punks my grandmother could vanquish, he’s in major debt to his supplier, Brad (Ed Helms). Brad is unforgiving and so rich he purchased a whale—because he can, people, because he can!
In order to wipe the slate clean and not land six feet under, David is skillfully manipulated into becoming a big-time drug smuggler by bringing Brad’s latest shipment in from Mexico! In his hometown of homogeneity, Brad blends in, but in Mexico, his whiteness is a beacon for every shifty-eyed hustler who calls the dusty landscape home.
Finding the desperation in the most desperate around him, he twists the arms of his neighbors: cynical but quick-witted stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston); the innocent, lovable and profoundly clueless Kenny (Will Poulter); and the tatted-and-pierced, classically misunderstood, streetwise teen Casey (Emma Roberts). This “all-American family” is now crafted into Brad’s “perfect” foolproof plan.
One fake wife, two pretend teenagers on the verge of sexual awakening and a huge, shiny RV later, the Millers are headed south of the border for a Fourth of July weekend that is sure to end with a bang and a huge score of premium street weed worth millions of dollars.
What could go wrong for the Miller family going on family “vay-cay?” After one small snafu on the road, the Millers encounter a set of real RV enthusiasts: the Fitzgeralds. This family is so friendly, so helpful and so “white” that it makes Mormons look like black sheep. To make the point “Stevie Wonder crystal clear,” the Fitzgeralds would try the patience of every practicing Jehovah’s Witness. Dodging corrupt police and machine-gun toting, itchy-trigger-finger killers is a piece of cake when compared to facing the Fitzgerald family’s night of colorful charades.
I love everything about this silly family on their impossible mission to stay alive. Watch out for the impossibly dumb character Scottie P. (Mark L. Young), who should be the poster child for serious education reform.
Perfect casting and winning performances aside, I’m sure it’s the direction and the combined writing team that pulls this film ahead, landing it firmly in the excellent category and nudging it close to “new comedy classic” territory.
Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (“Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story”) isn’t a fancy one; he’s a solid director. The gem is that he’s working from a story by Bob Fisher and Steve Faber, who co-wrote the hugely successful “Wedding Crashers,” which earned more than $285 million at the worldwide box office. The screenplay credit is shared with Sean Anders and John Morris, who co-wrote the cult hit “Hot Tub Time Machine” and are currently penning the sequel to the Farrelly brothers’ blockbuster comedy “Dumb and Dumber,” called “Dumb and Dumber To.”
Dramas are great, but good comedy is hard to find, and this isn’t just good comedy—this is great comedy. New York, it’s Miller time!