(Dr. Scott Allison, Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond)
Greg, we’re the reviewers who will now review We’re the Millers.
Indeed we are. It’s the movie with the best penis and breast jokes this summer.
Figures THOSE are the jokes you’d notice! Let’s recap.
We meet David Clark (Jason Sudeikis), a small-time drug-dealer who is single and imagines himself to be living a happy life. Living next door to him is a nerdy teenage boy Kenny (Will Poulter), and down the hall lives a professional stripper named Rose (Jennifer Aniston). Outside his apartment building lurks a homeless, troubled teen girl named Casey (Emma Roberts). One day, while trying to rescue Casey from muggers, David has $43,000 stolen from him. The problem is that he owes this money to his wealthy drug lord supplier, Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms).
Gurdlinger has a proposition for David: Travel to Mexico and pick up a “smidge” of marijuana from his connection down there. But David doesn’t think he can do it alone. He needs a cover. So he hires Rose, Casey, and Kenny to act as his “family” and be camouflage for the border guards. They no sooner arrive in Mexico and acquire a massive RV when they encounter a super white-bread family: the Fitzgeralds. Hilarity ensues when David learns that he just ripped off drug lord Pablo Chacon (Tomer Sisley) who is after him with a vengeance. Now the chase is on as David and “the Millers” evade questions from the Fitzgerald family while they evade detection from the drug lord.
Despite my reservations from watching the trailer for this film, I found We’re the Millers to be an enjoyable movie. It’s no threat to win any Oscars, nor will it make any lists of the top-10 movies of the year. But the movie has an undeniable charm and sweetness that carries the day. The key to winning us over lies in the manner in which the characters are introduced to us. Despite being a loser drug dealer, David courageously intervenes when Casey and Kenny are being roughed up by neighborhood hoodlums. Once we see that all four main characters are decent, likeable human beings, we’re rooting for them to find love and good fortune on their hero journeys.
The joy of this movie, which is essentially a classic road trip, is watching the four main characters transforming and molding into their fictitious roles. David becomes the authoritarian father, Rose begins to take on characteristics of the doting mother, Casey plays out the role of the rebellious sister, and Kenny is the embodiment of the 1950s older brother. In the end they *are* a family, all for one and one for all.
Yes, you’ve put your finger on it exactly, Greg. The new roles that our heroes are forced to play become the basis for very meaningful character transformations. For Kenny, the transformation is from innocence and naivety to wisdom and maturity. For David, it’s overcoming his stunted emotional growth to become a responsible family man. For Rose, the transformation consists of finally learning how to achieve healthy intimacy. For Casey, it’s acquiring a sense of belonging, love, and connection to other people.
Of course, We’re the Millers is a rather lightweight comedy and these hero journeys are telegraphed and sledgehammered. There are few surprises, and early on we can discern how this movie has to wrap up if it is to deliver a satisfying ending. The only question is how we will get there, and despite the fact that the movie meanders beyond the 90-minute mark (which should have been its maximum length), we’re left with fireworks at the end, both literally and emotionally.
I won’t be going on another trip with the Millers, which is to say I won’t be going back for a second viewing. But this was an enjoyable romp. I give We’re the Millers 3 out of 5 Reels for entertainment value. And, as you point out, each of our players had a minor hero’s journey worthy of 3 Heroes out of 5.
We’re the Millers is a satisfying comedy that won’t win any accolades but can win the hearts of any audience willing to simply enjoy a simple tale about four strangers who evolve into a tight-knit family while braving many dangers. Be warned, there is plenty of potty humor and even a grotesque crotch-shot that will either make you laugh or throw-up. But this film has heart and some cornball charm. I also give it 3 Reels.
The hero journey is a bit on the obvious side but still loyal to many of the tell-tale elements of the classic heroic path. Through adversity, our four main characters are able to find their true selves by attaining qualities that are missing and which prevent them from achieving their full potential. Like you Greg, I also give We’re the Millers 3 Heroes out of 5.