I get that humor is relative. For some it may mean the dark feisty stings of British satire. For others it means the unbridled entertainment of watching a spider sting a kid in the ball sack, or the unrelenting pleasure of watching said kid kissing women pretending to be his sister and mother. I won’t judge you if you have an appetite for the latter, it’s just that We’re the Millers isn’t nasty entertainment, it’s only nasty.
Director Rawson Thurber made the passably funny Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story ten years ago, so it’s a little surprising that he doesn’t understand what risqué comedy actually is. He simply throws in one offensive gag after another and forgets to make the gags funny. The whole film is an assembly line of grotesque things that the director picks up and shows you and asks if you were offended. This is not comedy, this is lazy filmmaking. Sure, there are some people in the world who laugh just because someone mentions the human body’s nether regions but there are significantly more people who prefer a well written quality comedy over tedious skits. It’s not that you can’t make a comedy by only relying on shock value – Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura are just offensive sight gags but somewhere between the smut is also a heart, apart from Jim Carrey’s gynormous funny bone.
Which brings me to another major reason why the jokes fail - the bland cast. Dodgeball had the consistently funny Ben stiller and Vince Vaughn before he turned into someone who looks like a coke dealer hanging outside schools. We’re the Millers has Jason Sudeikis who is at best a harmless side kick in Saturday Night Live but is as funny and likable as a tumor in a lead role. When he’s not flexing his unfunny muscles on screen, the film relies on its lone joke of Jennifer Aniston being a stripper and pretending to be his wife. It’s not that Aniston is a bore, it’s that she is a sad pathetic mess. The poor thing is clad in stripper clothes but is not only an unconvincing stripper, but is also a really tedious comedienne. Rachel Greene was a one trick pony and this film is even cruel enough to mock this very fact during the end credits.
What really infuriates is the wastage of the gigantic talent of Nick Offerman, who exists in this film only to finger bang the ear of Sudeikis’ character. Ron Swanson is capable of dismantling the innards of your stomach with his hilarious lines, but it looks like he needs to get a new agent.
(First published in MiD Day)