Reviewed by: Jake Roberson
|Featuring:||Jennifer Aniston … Rose O’Reilly
Jason Sudeikis … David Clark
Will Poulter … Kenny Rossmore
Emma Roberts … Casey Mathis
Ed Helms … Brad Gurdlinger
Thomas Lennon … Rick Nathanson
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|Director:||Rawson Marshall Thurber|
New Line Cinema
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|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
There are a lot of ways to make a living in this day and age. Some people heat up glass and blow it into interesting, colorful shapes. Others get good at manipulating balls of different shapes and size and get paid to prove they are the best. A select few are even revered for their ability to solve complicated math problems. David, Rose, Kenny, and Casey don’t fit neatly into any of those categories. Or any category, really.
David deals. Rose strips. Casey runs away. And Kenny… well, Kenny doesn’t do much of anything.
When Kenny does try to do something—namely, protect Casey from some street thugs—he sets off a chain of events that ends with (small-time drug dealer) David’s stash of weed and cash being stolen and David being stuck squarely between a rock and a hard place with his supplier/old college roommate. The penance for losing the stash and money involves David smuggling a smidge and a half of marijuana out of Mexico and into the United States. Easy as pie, right? Nobody has ever been killed over two metric tons of weed… right?
Desperate for a plan that will lesson his chance of death or life-imprisonment, David cobbles together a makeshift nuclear family unit complete with a mother (Rose), father (David), angst-ridden teen daughter (Casey), and virginal teen son (Kenny).
What could go wrong? (Besides everything?)
Language: The Miller “family” may not have a lot of things in common with one another, but they all display a certain affinity for cursing. As such, we encounter upwards of 120 derivations of the f-word, three dozen references to “sh*t,” another three dozen quips that include the more “minor” curse words like “hell,” “b*tch,” “d*mn,” and “a**,” and God and Jesus’ names are mixed, matched, and taken in vain over 40 times. Myriad other crass come-ons, put-downs, and epithets are bandied about recklessly and are par for the course when it comes to sex-obsessed, R-rated, road trip comedies of this… caliber.
Sexual Content: Another area of common ground for this dysfunctional anti-family and their similarly dysfunctional movie is a crude fondness for lowbrow sexuality in word, in deed, and in mise-en-scène. (Pardon my French.) We see scantily-clad strippers, including Rose, dancing onstage as the camera leers at them. Rose gives a brief, angry lap dance to David. Later on, when being threatened by an angry drug lord, Rose strips down to her skimpy skivvies in order to distract the salacious simpletons. During this “routine,” she takes a shower in her lacy white lingerie and her nipples are visible through her bra. The camera makes sure to soak it all in while highlighting shots of Rose caressing herself sensually.
An extended gag features Kenny making out with both Casey (his fake sister) and Rose (his fake mom). Kenny’s penis and swollen testicles are shown repeatedly (albeit briefly), and his bare backside also makes a short appearance. Elsewhere, David and Rose are mistaken for swingers by another couple, which results in Rose’s breasts being felt up by the other woman while the other man molests David’s ear with his finger. Two separate running jokes center around oral and anal sex. A game of Campfire Pictionary devolves into Rose shouting animatedly about several different kinds of “d*cks.” Other topics that garner repeated screen time included tampons, “boner garages,” and vibrators. Several couples kiss passionately in the semi-finale.
Violent Content: Violence is only sporadically encountered on the Miller’s international road trip, but that doesn’t mean that it is completely free of bumps in the road. A man is tasered. Several people deliver and are on the receiving end of blows to the face courtesy of various classic blunt instruments such as human fists, monkey wrenches, billy clubs and hefty travel mugs. A YouTube video shows a naked man streaking before colliding with a glass window, and we look on as another man backflops on a dumpster lid after jumping off a fire escape. One man accidentally sustains a (non-lethal) wound from a bullet, and a wildly-careening RV is responsible for dealing extensive damage to a drug lord’s expensive sports car. A young man winds up on the wrong end of a spider bite to the testicles.
Drug/Alcohol Content: In a movie that features a group of misfits posing as a family in order to smuggle drugs across the Mexican-American border, it’s only fitting that drugs get a lot of screen time. Drugs, well, mostly “just” marijuana, are seen, talked about, sought after, and/or dealt throughout the entirety of the film. That being said, no one is ever seen actually using the drugs. As it turns out, they are present to drive the plot and create awkward situations for the sad sacks unfortunate enough to be smuggling them. This creates an interesting dynamic, as we are left with a plot revolving around drugs inside a movie that seems like it actually couldn’t care much less about drugs.
Faith/Spirituality: Surprising to note amidst the problems that ultimately sink the film are two poignant scenes that take place towards both the beginning and end of the movie. The first is a close-up of Rose’s face onstage at the strip club where she works. Her eyes are startlingly empty, devoid of any hint of life or joy. We see a woman who has been drained of value, whose lasts drops of self-worth appear to have trickled away long ago. A woman who feels she has nothing left ahead of her except years of floundering in a sea of empty brokenness brought about by a series of poor life choices. It’s only a brief shot, but it’s haunting.
The second scene is a bit like the first, though this time it focuses on Casey. Returning after running off with a decidedly less-than-charming young fellow, Casey is sternly chastised by her worried (fake) parents. After she begrudgingly apologizes and huffs off to the back of the camper, we watch life flicker back into the young runaway’s eyes and a smile tug at the corners of her mouth as she listens to her “parents” fret over her from the other room. It’s only a brief shot, but it’s heartbreaking in the best sort of way.
We all crave meaning. We all seek it in one way or another. The book of Ecclesiastes is an entire study on humankind’s unending search for meaning. One of the constants of the universe seems to be that we never find meaning when we are only looking out for, or at, ourselves. Each of the Millers has experienced the truth of Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 in their own life but, at first, none of them know where else they ought to look.
The Bible makes it pretty clear that we were designed for community, for relationship, both with God (Mark 12:30-31 and Acts 17:27) and with others (Ecclesiastes 4:7-12), our families in particular (Genesis 2:18 and Psalm 127:3). This is a message that “We’re The Millers” doesn’t simply connect with; it’s a message it knocks out of the park in a big way. Sadly, God never enters the equation onscreen, but His fingerprints can be seen all over the beautiful family dynamics He designed.
Conclusion: In the end, “We’re The Millers” is a lot like the members of its fictional family: a crass, emotionally-wounded, rough-edged outlier with a heart of gold buried underneath a tough exterior. It’s not a particularly fresh story beat, but it’s tried and true, and the film wrings it for all it’s worth. We are treated to a few laughs and a couple of lessons about the undying value and importance of a committed family unit, even (and especially) a dysfunctional, committed family unit. Justice is (mostly) served in the end, and each of the “Millers” eventually comes to the realization that what they have in each other is far more valuable than any material gain. It’s just too bad that those positive gleanings are buried deep inside two metric tons of weed, sensual imagery, and crass, juvenile humor.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.