We're the Millers (Blu-ray)
New Line Home Video / 2013 / 110 mins / R
We're the Millers is certainly one of the strangest family vacation movies I've ever seen simply for how much it strives to break from the template. It's not really a family so much as a group of people from various ages who hate each other and it's not really a vacation so much as a heavy-duty drug run. And yet it still plays up the heartwarming elements of the comedy sub-genre, albeit with a raunchy and mean-spirited flavor.
The plot follows slick-talking drug dealer David Clark (Jason Sudeikis) who just had his entire batch of narcotics and cash ripped off. In order to pay off his rich drug lord boss (Ed Helms), David has to smuggle some drugs for him from Mexico into America. Realizing he'd easily be searched at the border given his appearance, David decides to rent an RV and dress up a bunch of his low-life friends to be his family. This includes a stripper turned loving wife (Jennifer Aniston), homeless girl turned perky daughter (Emma Roberts) and weird awkward kid turned weird awkward son (Will Poulter). The unlikely group band together, posing as a family for the purposes of getting paid. They start out supremely hating each other, but when their delivery takes a turn for the worst with Mexican gangsters....well, you see where this is headed, right?
Now despite how predictable the plot became only 20 minutes in, I was surprised at how effective most of the comedy was written. Most of the bits when this "family" is squabbling with foul language while trying to keep up appearances was actually much funnier than I would've thought. What helps keep this humor train going is the fact that the film never holds on the joke for too long. There are a handful of scenes that go for the easy laugh with either the shocking or raunchy that fall a little flat, but the gags recover surprisingly quickly. For every unfunny moment or line there were two or three more that had me laughing.
If there is one element that is at top form here, it would have to be cast. In one of the few roles where Jason Sudeikis plays a lead, he's pitch-perfect as the witty and vulgar leader. Just about every scene with him works because of his fantastic delivery. Even supporting roles are just as strong. Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn perfectly play the odd family that keep running across the Millers. They could've easily been the most irritating part of the whole movie, but they actually ended up being my favorite.
The only area where this comedy seems to falter is where it feels the need to compromise with the heartwarming ending that wraps everything up nicely. I would have admired the film much more if it had the guts to go out in a blazing train wreck than a happy finale. Perhaps if the final scene where the Millers finally convergence on that ideal family scenario had a dash more of the despicable it could have retained its unique charm. Instead it takes the safe way out for a comedy that should be anything but.
New Line and Warner Brothers delivers a satisfying transfer with a crystal-clear 1080p transfer of the 2.4:1 widescreen video. The DTS-HD MA also sounds pretty darn good, but, as with most comedies, there isn't a whole lot to show off here.
Special Features on the disc is mostly just a series of featurettes composed of interviews and set footage. These are fun for a little bit of insight from the cast and crew, but there is maybe just one too many that it makes me wonder why they just didn't do an audio commentary.
We're the Miller won't exactly redefine the family road trip formula, but it does inject enough originality to make it worth a stop. It certainly doesn't topple the classic National Lampoon's Family Vacation in that it plays things a little too safe, but there's a satisfactory amount of raunchy adult humor worth a few laughs. Not a high recommendation, but it's certainly a comedy I wouldn't mind seeing again.