We’re the Millers: Is the Comedy Film Based on Real Life?

‘We’re the Millers’ is a comedy film that revolves around David Clark, a marijuana dealer, who is robbed of both his money and product. Owing some of the stolen goods to a major drug dealer, David is coerced into smuggling marijuana from Mexico to clear his debt. Having no prior experience in smuggling, David at least knows that a single man crossing the border would be too suspicious, so he hires his neighbors Rose, a stripper, and Kenny, an awkward 18-year-old with no real-life experience to act as his wife and son; they’re joined by Casey, a runaway girl who completes their makeshift family, the Millers.

Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber, the 2013 film stars Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Nick Offerman, and Kathryn Hahn. A laid-back and fun story about what it takes to be a family, especially a fake one, ‘We’re the Millers’ will keep audiences entertained with its goofy antics and absurd circumstances. But is there any truth behind this cross-country drug smuggling family trip? Let’s dive in together and find out!

We’re the Millers is an Original Screenplay

‘We’re the Millers’ is not a true story. The screenplay was penned by Bob Fisher and Steve Faber based on an original story they came up with and was later rewritten by Sean Anders and John Morris. It is this final draft that director Rawson Marshall Thurber received in 2011. “I didn’t get it [the script] until Sean Anders and John Morris sent me a draft and that was about two years ago, so that’s when I first started and I thought that script was really funny,” the director told WhatCulture.

Thurber continued, “I thought it was a clever take on an old idea, and I think I laughed out loud four times when I was reading it and that never happens, because most of the scripts you get are terrible or unfunny or both.” He also re-wrote the screenplay to fit his directing style when it was agreed that he would helm the film. “Most of the funny stuff was already in there, I worked on the plotting and structure a little bit, worked on the Kenny character and his romance, and then I added the striptease scene,” the director added.

The film’s main selling point is the found family trope, which it relies heavily on to deliver the story. This, combined with the road film aspect of it, makes for an enjoyable ride. Plus, it’s not just the chemistry between Sudeikis and Aniston – who have worked together on ‘Horrible Bosses’ – that drives the story forward, but the combined dynamic between Sudeikis, Aniston, Poulter, and Roberts.

The magic weaved by the pitch-perfect performances of the main cast becomes quite obvious in scenes like when they’re coming up with lies on the spot to tell the Fitzgeralds about their trip based on what others are saying or when they try to save themselves from the gangsters who capture them just as they think themselves scot-free. Jason Sudeikis shed light on how the theme of becoming a family was played out between the actors themselves on set.

In an interview with Collider, Sudeikis stated, “It’s the reality show model. Put people in the same town in the middle of North Carolina for four months, give them a job, except we’re not working at a t-shirt factory, we’re making a movie, and then you end up loving each other, liking each other, hating each other, getting annoyed with each other. Everything that the movie goes through. So it’s not so much probably the process of making moving and faking it as an actor, it’s probably more being used to having done other movies and having to get that across.”

The actor concluded, “Just the familial thing that occurs when you hang out with people for so long.” Though completely made-up, ‘We’re the Millers’ presents a feel-good story with plenty of positive reinforcement and openness that is rare to see in real life. As the Millers go on their journey that starts off as simply a means to earn some fast cash for each of them (with the exception of Kenny, forever immortalized in the viral “Wait, you guys are getting paid?” meme), turns into a road to discovering what each of them had been missing in their lives — love.

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