(First published in The New Indian Express)
There are a thousand ways to measure a movie and there is definitely no right or wrong. Much like beauty, it is all in the mind and heart at the receiving end. One of those ways is to measure by knowing what a film sets out to do and how well it does it. To glean what its intentions are and how it expresses them and how much of its goals it accomplishes. Going by those factors, We’re The Millers directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber isn’t half bad.
The movie wears its heart – if you are willing to admit a movie like this has one – on its sleeve. Its intentions are pretty clear right from the beginning. According to it, there are no offensive or distasteful jokes. Everything can be funny. But the operative word being ‘can’. I admit it is true – everything can be funny depending on the context and the way it is expressed. But whether it works or not is a different matter and this film delivers till about the first half. The jokes come one after another and though the set up is lazily put together, you have to know that the whole thing exists as a vehicle for all the jokes to parade on.
We’re The Millers stars Jason Sudeikis as David Clark, a small time drug dealer, Jennifer Aniston as Rose, an ageing stripper, Emma Roberts as Casey, a runaway and Will Poulter as Kenny the dunce on whom all the bad jokes in the second half are stacked against. It was very funny till the whole dead horse beating routine began though. They try to pose as the ubiquitous tourist family with an RV to move some marijuana across the US-Mexico border for a Texas based smuggler played by Ed Helms. Where is Judd Apatow when you need him?
The jokes in the first half are cleaner and meaner referencing everything from Sophie’s Choice to LeBron James to Star Wars. Rawson Marshall Thurber is probably a huge fan so he puts in another random Meryl Streep mention for no reason. But later on the jokes begin to sag, referencing only nether regions of Kenny and other assorted dirty humor, which fail to work not because they are dirty but because they have nothing new or a never-heard-before quality to them.
The worst thing about We’re The Millers is not in the main film though. It is in the end credits that has the worst set of bloopers in the history of bloopers. Even that seems scripted and trying too hard.