August 10, 2013

Movie Review: We're the Millers

I'd like to say that watching a lot of movies has given some deep insight into storytelling or filmmaking. I think the only thing I can honestly say is that I've seen a lot of movies. Still, it has afforded me perhaps a ouch more recognition of where a movie could have been better, missed opportunities if you will. I have no idea how I would go about making it better, mind you, I just know that it could be. The latest to kick this buzzer off inside my skull is the comedy We're the Millers.

I am sure you have heard of the movie. It stars Jason Sudeikis as a low level pot dealer who gets charged with going to Mexico to pick up some marijuana and smuggle it across the border. In order to do. The deed and draw as little attention as possible, he makes a fake family with a stripper wife (Jennifer Aniston), a runaway daughter (Emma Roberts), and a geeky son (Will Poulter). Of course, they get into some hijacks along the way involving a drug kingpin and an adventurous couple (Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn).

I would be lying if I said the movie wasn't funny, but I would also be lying if I said it was a good movie. There are jokes to be laughed at, funny gags, silly moments, and ridiculous situations. Still, it all too often feels like they are more interested in rushing on to the next gag or a stagey exposition bit. A lot of the time they are hurrying up to slow down, while never taking the time to really do anything. As it stands, it is a funny enough diversion but nothing you should feel the need to rush out to see.

The problems start early. Consider this, there is a sequence where Sudeikis' character is chased by some punks. The next thing you know they are robbing his apartment. In the words of Ron Burgundy, "That escalated quickly." We also get a couple of moments with Aniston's stripper that hints at depth but never goes anywhere. This append with virtually everybody, hints at depth that ultimately mean nothing.

There is a creeping suspicion in the back of my mind that there is a lot of good footage that got left on the cutting room floor. I am not trying to say this could be anything great, but it feels really chopped up, like a horror movie cutting around the gore, you know more was shot and wonder where it is.

We're the Millers is a movie that could have transcended the comedy genre and been something more, like early Apatow films or even the first Hangover movie. The idea of a drug dealer and a stripper making a fake family seems like a great setup to explore what led hem to their current place. Especially when you have a scene of the dealer meeting an old college classmate and comparing their current situations. Or the stripper with an absentee boyfriend and an eviction notice on her door. Or how about the geeky kid with absentee parents? What is his story?

While I laughed at some of the jokes, while I think Sudeikis is funny, while Aniston plays a great stripper, this could have used another pass or two. Why settle for the lazy? Sure, it is the easy route, but there has to be a desire at some level to make something better. I am disappointed because there was potential here. I laughed, but I could have laughed more.

Not Recommended (but you could do worse)…

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