You never know what comedies are going to break through. Where studios now mostly rely on brand names and franchises to have hits, comedies — though usually stacked with name players – are that much trickier, even if they’re hilarious. We’re the Millers was one of this summer’s biggest surprise hits, and after watching both the theatrical and extended cut, it’s easy to see why. The film, which stars Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston, is consistently funny. My review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.
Sudeikis plays David Clark, a pot dealer who’s doing well until he helps neighbor Kenny (David Poulter) stop some thugs from beating up street girl Casey (Emma Roberts). Instead of attacking Casey, Kenny lets slip that David’s a drug dealer, and so they take all of David’s money and drugs. Then his boss Brad Nerdlinger (Ed Helms) contacts him and tells him that the only way out of this is to smuggle marijuana across the border. David reluctantly accepts, and then comes upon a brilliant scheme: The border patrol is less likely to search an RV filled with a family, so he recruits Casey, and Kenny to play his children, and for his wife he ropes in Rose (Aniston), his neighbor, who’s also a stripper who just got out of a bad relationship and who’s facing eviction. They make the trip, but it takes them a while to settle into their roles, while the weed they load into their vehicle actually belongs to a different drug dealer, and they keep running into the Fitzgerald family, and it turns out that Don Fitzgerald (Ron Swanson Nick Offerman) is a DEA agent.
The transition from SNL player to starring man status is a perilous one, and for every Eddie Murphy, there’s at least three Chris Kattans. And though Sudeikis’ road to the big screen started rocky (don’t watch Hall Pass, if you haven’t already), with this role and performance, he’s the closest we’ve come to having a new Chevy Chase. It’s impressive that he pulls off both the ironic distance and the sentiment that comes from the character so effectively. It’s a great leading man turn where often comic performers have to play an outsized character. Here he’s just effortlessly funny.
But he’s matched by a great supporting cast that includes Thomas Lennon, Ken Marino, Kathryn Hahn, and Luis Guzman, who all show up to play, while the main four ensemble is also strong. With Aniston, this may be her best work in a big screen comedy to date, while Will Poulter is engagingly nerdy, and Emma Roberts is at her most likeable here. There are some big set-piece gags that border on transgressive (there’s a scene where Kenny’s fake family teach him how to kiss, and another that involves a swollen testicle), but the film never goes for gross out for too long. What may be most impressive is how it keeps incorporating all sorts of different comic styles into a coherent whole.
This is also the comeback film for director Rawson Marshall Thurber, who hit a home run almost a decade ago with Dodgeball, but then made an arthouse film that flopped. He shows a good command of camera, without being aggressive like Todd Phillips can be. The film also proves rewatchable, as I threw on both cuts over the course of a week, and found myself enjoying the film just as much the second time as the first. That’s impressive, and though it should never get one, I’m sure that New Line and company are going to try and make a sequel.
Warner Brother’s Blu-ray comes with a DVD and digital copy, while the film is presented in both the theatrical (110 min.) and extended (119 min.) version. The differences between the two are marginal at best, with more focus given to vibrator jokes, and a couple of longer joke runs. The film is presented in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, and it looks great for what it is (this will never be a demo disc).
Alas, the supplements are very light, with the highlights being the additional scenes and deleted material. “Millers Unleashed – Outtakes Overload” (8 min.) intercuts actual outtakes with behind the scenes footage and comments from the cast and crew, while there’s a section marked “Stories from the Road” that has seven bite-sized featurettes (18 min.) that are mostly goofs. Then there’s a behind the scenes piece on Ed Helms’ character (4 min.) and his whale obsession, and another that pretends the film was just a front to smuggle drugs (3 min.). The best of the bunch are eight extended/deleted scenes (16 min.) and then there’s a section for gags and more outtakes (3 min.).