When drug dealer David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) gets mugged and his bankroll snatched, he has to scramble to find a way to avoid revenge by his boss (Ed Helms), a guy so well-off and twisted that his office wall is an aquarium, through which the site of underwater carnage is disturbingly, if hilariously, on display. David is offered the chance to go to Mexico to pick up “a smidge” of drugs in return for being forgiven losing his stash. Trouble is, being a scruffy loner, he’s bound to be suspected of wrongdoing by border guards. What to do? Enlist other societal fringe types to pose as a happy family—We’re the Millers—and rent a gleaming RV the size of a Walmart.
We’re the Millers, which comes from the fertile comic minds of director Rawson Marshal Thurber (Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story) and writers Bob Fisher, Steve Faber, Sean Anders and John Morris, who in various permutations were behind Wedding Crashers and Hot Tub Time Machine, is raunchy and at times side-splitting. It’s also vulgar and often confused about who its primary satiric targets are supposed to be. Rose (Jennifer Aniston) is a stripper who has been cleaned out by a bum boyfriend, but she cleans up nicely in pedal pushers and Keds. Vagrant Casey (Emma Roberts) seemingly can’t be bothered to work up enough compassion to thank latchkey kid Kenny (Will Poulter) for trying to protect her from the same thugs who robbed David. Over time, of course, this ragtag foursome will come to care for and protect each other, although that begs the question of where Casey’s and Kenny’s real parents are . . . but I digress.
The filmmakers make it very clear that despite their fringe status, each of the “Millers” is decent at heart. In fact, David makes it very clear early on that he doesn’t sell dope to kids, although his child-protective-services side falls through later when he encourages Kenny to perform fellatio on a Mexican cop looking for a cut of the action. During a by-necessity camp-out with the Fitzgeralds (scene stealers Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn), David and Rose are shocked that the seemingly whitebread RVers are interested in swinging; this leads to a scene that is slightly funny but incredibly awkward. Watching We’re the Millers in 2013 is vastly different than watching a similar movie, with equal intent, say, 20 years ago—we’ve gotten so accustomed to seeing and hearing about sexuality, porn, casual drug use, swearing, and such, that the shock factor that would have made this movie better just doesn’t exist.