Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Adoption Movie Guide: We're The Millers
David Clark is a small-time drug dealer, but he finds himself in deeper than he meant to be when he is robbed before he can turn over money to Brad. To let him off the hook, Brad insists that David travel to Mexico and return carrying smuggled drugs. David decides to surround himself with three other people, posing as a family, in the hopes that doing so will make him less suspicious to customs dealers. While David does evade customs, he doesn’t evade the scorn of a Mexican drug lord, who sets off in pursuit of David and his pseudo-family.
The Adoption Connection
The “Miller family” is a collection of four people who are brought together by circumstance. They are not related, but they do develop some sense of family. Both of the teenagers that travel with David are looking for some sense of family (one has been abandoned, the other has run away) and more-or-less find it.
David has some virtues – he tries to break up a fight, and he asserts that he will not sell drugs to kids.
There are moments where David or his pretend-wife Rose make choices to benefit the teens travelling with them
One character notes that she was starting to value the sense of family that had been created, but when it seems to break up, she dismisses it as “nothing.” This is a reasonable portrayal of a teen trying to protect themselves from emotional pain caused by failed attempts at “family.” It’s also pretty obvious that the failure was on the part of the adults. This has the potential to be an educational moment for viewers considering foster care; disrupting placements can do a lot of harm to a teen.
Challenges and Weak Points
A character tries to disavow membership in the Miller family saying, “We don’t even look alike.” Families don’t have to look alike to be family.
There are some unflattering stereotyped characters.
In one scene, the teenage boy gets kissing lessons from the people posing as his sister and his mother. There are other scenes as well which have the potential to appear incestuous.
Definitely not for kids. For adults, though, the film does offer the opportunity to think about what makes a family, a family.
Do the Millers become a legitimate family at any point in the film? If so, when – if not, why not?
What makes the legitimacy of an adoptive (or foster) family different than The Millers?
How do we deal with feelings (our own, or others’) that we’re not a real family, even though we have become one?
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