Thursday, 30 January 2014

We're the Millers

Lowdown: A drug dealer recruits a "family" to cover his smuggling operations.
One of my most common criticism of Hollywood is it staying in the shade of the politically correct too much. It is therefore a blessing to find deviations from that behaviour, no matter how subtly they may come. Given that is the sensitivity level we're talking about, I have to say We're the Millers took me by complete surprise.
The premises are simple, really. David (Jason Sudeikis) is a career drug dealer, in the sense that this is what he has been doing since college. He's not a particularly charming man, with numerous faults in addition to his career choice, yet he's the star of this movie. I guess it's the same way with us: we're the stars of our own lives, no matter how many faults we have.
Anyway, circumstances are hard on David. Through "no fault of his own" he finds himself in severe debt. The only way he's going to be let out of this one alive is if he smuggles drugs from Mexico; but how can he pass there and back again without the police being able to read the "drug dealer" sign that's plastered all over his forehead? Well, our David comes up with a bright idea. Instead of going on his own and attracting more attention than a suicide bomber wearing his vest on the outside, he's going to pretend to be a family man going on vacation with his family. No one ever stops a family for a drug check!
Fulfilling the various family roles are stripper Rose (Jennifer Aniston), who does a fine comedic job even if there are hiccups in her portrayal of her character's profession; homeless girl Casey and dumb neighbour child Kenny. They have their personal issues, but the formula works. Sort of. That is, it works until a larger sting operation than David thinks he's in with his "family" starts to unravel.
The beauty of We're the Miller is in the way it takes the piss of many a holy cow. Take, for example, the scene where our family starts arguing on their first flight together, to the point of attracting unnecessary attention from the flight crew. Rose quickly resolves the matter by turning the family argument into a joint prayer session, which the crew is all too happy to accept as explanation for the family's insubordination. Me, I liked this not so hidden joke at the way Americans tend to unquestionably revere their religion (not that Aussies or others do any better).
We're the Millers also avoids taking itself too seriously. Take, as another example, the scene in which Rose tries to appease cartel bosses by throwing a strip dance that's a carbon copy of a famous Flashdance scene, nonsensical elements included.
It all works out to be a very hilarious comedy/parody, but audiences are still required to remember that at the end of the day this is still an American movie. It doesn't take long to figure out where the wind is blowing with this one, in the sense that our made up family soon stands strong like a bonafide, Tony Abbott approved ideal fairytale family. Similarly, the resolution seems a tad contrived, and in the process of getting there things often slip off the good comedy rails and into the mundane and the seen before. Still, I was happy to forget the issues and focus on laughing with the Millers.
Overall: Surprisingly good and refreshing. 3.5 out of 5 crabs.

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