Saturday, August 10, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: "We're the Millers"

We're the Millers

Only ONE thing could 
entice me from my 
house in the middle 
of the afternoon during 
the scorching, dog 
days of August —
Jennifer Aniston.
"One senior ticket for
We're the Millers, please!"

Directed by Rawson Marshall ThurberWe're the Millers is the latest in a growing group of dubious summer comedies from over the last few seasons that have promised sharp, fresh and unique content, yet merely delivered mind-numbing, lowest common denominator tripe.

We're the Millers could, and should have been a winner. The story certainly seemed intriguing. Facing an enormous debt that he can't pay, small time drug dealer David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) is made an offer that he can't refuse by his unscrupulous supplier, Brad Gurdlinger (Ed Helms). His mission is simple — smuggle a "smidge" of Gurdlinger's marijuana supply from Mexico, across the border and into the United States. In exchange, Clark's debt would be forgiven and he'd earn an additional $100,000 to boot.

Clark assembles an unlikely team to assist him in crossing the border successfully — an inconspicuous, fabricated "all-American" family — the Millers. He recruits recently unemployed stripper Rose O'Reilly (Jennifer Aniston) to pose as his wife, local runaway Casey Mathis (Emma Roberts) as his daughter and nerdy teenager Kenny Rossmore (Will Poulter) as his son. Non-stop tension and hi-jinx ensue as the Millers encounter drug lords, thugs and a host of zany characters throughout their cross-country adventure.

Jennifer Aniston delivers another Oscar-
worthy performance in We're the Millers.
(I know - Brad Pitt is an utter FOOL!)
The cast is stellar indeed. Sudeikis has enjoyed a slew of comedic box office hits. Helms has achieved iconic status through his role as Stu in the successful Hangover franchise. Roberts and Poulter both provide engaging performances. And as for Aniston, I'd gleefully pay full admission price just to watch her recite the Gettysburg Address, wearing a burlap parka.

Yet despite the promising plot and powerhouse cast, We're the Millers falls short of delivering a meaningful payoff. However, it does present some interesting lessons: 1) Illegal drug activity is to be glorified. 2) Virginity is something to be ashamed of. 3) All Christians are uptight wackos with secret sex fetishes.

If endless gratuitous sexual content and non-stop vulgarities are your thing, then We're the Millers  will not disappoint you — as it fully warrants its "R" rating. And have you ever wondered just how many times the name of Jesus Christ can be taken in vain during a two-hour period? Well, apparently, hundreds!

Okay, I'll admit that there were a few laugh out loud moments. However, Clark ordering his teenage cohort Kenny to perform oral sex on a male police officer as a bribe to avoid arrest was not one of them. Nor was the late night tent scene. Awkward? Yes. Funny? Uh, not even close.

Fortunately, I could recognize the (likely unintentional) deeper, big picture message of the film. For me, We're the Millers was about more than simply peddling filth and nonsense — it was about people. Often in life, we're assigned labels. As seen on the film's promotional poster, the characters are labeled as being merely a "Drug Dealer," a "Stripper," a "Runaway" and a "Virgin." But we are all so much more than the labels we're given and too often accept. We all have our own unique stories and face our own personal struggles. And thank God, He truly knows us and values us. Furthermore, even when others reject us because of these labels, our Heavenly Father desires an intimate relationship with us — ALL of us. A truly valuable lesson indeed.

But sadly, no lesson is learned by the "labeled" lead characters, even after each being given a new lease on life. And as the film closes, we discover "the Millers" enjoying the safety of the witness protection program, growing pot plants in their backyard. The audience cheers!

-Christopher Long
(August 2013)

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