Components of a good comedy are the same as in a bad one – toilet humor gags, cringeworthy images, a tear-jerker moment, epic fails – what matters is how they have been mixed together.
We are the Millers is an unlikely box office hit. A drug dealer, a stripper and two teens form a fake family to smuggle a huge load of marijuana from Mexico to the US. What can this work out?
The foursome of protagonists are not exactly likable in the beginning: the main one is a grown man dealing weed, the problem, apart from the illegal nature of his occupation, is that he’s been doing that ever since his teens and his life has not moved on ever since, so as another character put it, ‘He’s got nothing, he’s free’. Jennifer Aniston’s character is a broke middle-aged stripper about to be evicted from her flat. The homeless girl is rude and ungrateful when rescued from thugs and the teen guy abandoned by his mother is just an uncool kid.
The smuggling goes according to the plan apart from minor hiccups: the Millers are pursued by drug dealers and they also bump into a real family consisting of a retired special forces guy and a sexually confused wife (who attempt having a couples’ sex with pseudo-Millers), and their daughter who mutually develops a crush on the uncool kid. The amount of hilarious awkwardness in the film is clipping. Jennifer Aniston delivers the most amusing performance: her character Sarah is making visible efforts in pretending a honey and nice mom and the scene of her striptease in the garage is definitely one to remember.
As if to match the dysfunctional Millers their antagonist is a nerdy crook who collects sharks and orca instead of cars and is just so annoying, you want to throw him into the same fish tank.
So, why We Are the Millers are so successful? By pretending to be an average happy family, the real Millers come across much better, deeply flawed as they are, and I think the audience can relate to this. We all have to wear masks one way or the other in our lives. Sometimes, deliberately having to act as someone else gives us a better perspective of what we are and what we can be.