A few years back, there were talks of rebooting the Vacation franchise with Ed Helms (who also co-stars in this title) playing a grown-up Rusty. While that idea is currently in development hell, audiences may have gotten the next-best-thing in 'We're The Millers', a raunchy comedy from Director Rawson Marshall Thurber (best noted for helming Dodgeball) that shows us what a modern-day Griswold family might be like…if they were unrelated…and smuggled drugs.
'We're The Millers' stars Jason Sudeikis as David Clark, a marijuana dealer who runs into some financial trouble when teenage thugs run off with both his pot and his cash. Since David can't pay his supplier, Brad (played with a snarky relish by Ed Helms), he's given the chance to recoup his losses by going down to Mexico and bringing a 'small shipment' back across the border. David decides that the best way to do this while avoiding suspicion is to recruit some of the people he knows, rent an RV, and pose as a family on vacation.
So, after a bit of convincing, David is able to persuade a young boy named Kenny (Will Poulter) who lives in his apartment building, along with a runaway girl, Casey (Emma Roberts), whom David was trying to protect when he got his money and drugs stolen. For his 'wife', David recruits Rose (Jennifer Aniston), a stripper who also lives in his apartment and doesn't think much of him – although she agrees to join David when she also finds herself in a financial bind.
What really makes 'We're The Millers' click is the concept. By making this group of four a 'family', yet not really a family, the plotline can put them in all kinds of inappropriate situations where the humor derives from the reaction from others who think they're actually related. Add to that the fact that they're smuggling pot (which turns out to be a lot more than Brad let on), and there's a whole new layer of humor thrown into the mix.
Half of what makes 'We're The Millers' really fun is that we've never seen Jennifer Aniston act quite this raunchy on screen before. Not only does she have a couple of striptease scenes in the movie (for the record, no nudity but still plenty of skin), but she often swears like a sailor – and she's hilarious doing so (she gets the biggest laugh in the movie during a Pictionary game).
A good comedy can't just be all raunch and no substance, however, and at its core 'We're The Millers' actually has a lot of heart. We come to care about these four characters, despite the fact that they tend to be horrible to each other throughout most of the story. By the time the movie is over, they've grown on us and we wish we didn't have to say goodbye (no worries, as a sequel is reportedly in the works).
Not every scene in 'We're The Millers' works, keeping the movie from jumping from a 'good' comedy up to a 'great' one, and much of the plot involving drug dealers adds an action element to the movie that is probably not needed. However, I give 'We're The Millers' credit for not being afraid to push the envelope in almost every scene. It's crude, vulgar, and edgy – but also rip-roaringly funny at times.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'We're The Millers' travels onto Blu-ray in a Blu-ray/DVD/Ultraviolet combo pack. Both discs are housed inside an eco-friendly Elite keepcase, with a slipcover fitting overtop that features a lenticular cover that morphs back and forth between the four leads before and after their family transformation. The case also has an insert containing the code for a digital Ultraviolet copy of the movie, via the Flickster website.
The 50GB dual-layer Blu-ray is front-loaded with trailers for Man of Steel and the made-for-HBO movie Clear History. The DVD is front-loaded with an ad for Ultraviolet, an anti-tobacco ad, and trailers for Man of Steel, 'The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug', Getaway, and 'Clear History'. Both the Blu-ray and the DVD menus consist of a still of the Miller 'family' (as seen on the box cover slick), with menu selections running across the bottom of the screen.
Shot digitally on Arri Alexa cameras and presented at the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, 'We're The Millers' looks great on Blu-ray, with a detailed and colorful AVC MPEG-4 encode that is free from any banding, artifacting, or other glitches. Skintones are properly balanced and consistent throughout, as is the overall contrast. Black levels are inky deep and there's little in the way of any murkiness in the movie's nighttime scenes. Given the Mexican/Southern U.S. locales used in the movie, colors do tend to run on the warm side, but overall this is a great-looking transfer from Warners with very little to complain about.
The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for the movie sounds very good for a comedy, with my only real complaint being in terms of balance. Like many releases of recent theatrical titles, the spoken word of 'We're The Millers' often comes off as a tad lower than the music, effects, and other bits of soundtrack going on around it. This isn't unusual for a Blu-ray release, but it is unusual for Warners, whose releases I rarely experience this with. Other than that minor issue, the track sounds great, with crisp dialogue, some noticeable directionality between the back and front speakers, and even a few distinguishable low-end frequency moments. There are no issues with dropouts or other audio glitches.
5.1 Dolby Digital tracks are also available in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, but for the theatrical version only. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
There's no shortage of raunchy comedies coming out of Hollywood these days, but few hit the mark as well as 'We're The Millers'. While not every scene works, the chemistry between the four leading actors is fantastic, and the movie has a sense of heart to it that you don't often see in films like this. In trying to be the antidote to the typical 'family comedy', the Millers turn out to be the funniest 'family' we've seen on the big screen since the Griswolds. Recommended.