Title – A Million Ways to Die In the West (2014)
Director – Seth MacFarlane (Ted)
Cast – Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman
Plot – Cowardly farmer Albert (MacFarlane) must step up and prove his mettle against renowned gunslinger Clinch (Neeson) when he falls in love with his wife Anna (Theron). The Wild West however shows itself to be one mighty dangerous place.
“Everything out here that’s not you, wants to kill you”
Review by Eddie on 30/05/2014
See the funny thing about A Million Ways to Die in the West is that it’s not actually all that funny. Sure there are some very hearty laughs in amongst the mix but for a film that boasts a run time of nigh on 2 hours the hit to miss ratio is worryingly in the favour of the latter. What makes this a funny type of thing is that with the continuing hit that is Family Guy and the box office behemoth that was Ted there were high noon hopes for this venture to the west by polarizing comedian/creator Seth MacFarlane but it seems the man himself has overestimated not only his own talents but the crux of many of his jokes.
MacFarlane is unquestionably a funny man, but as shown by his somewhat lacking Oscar hosting gig he may in fact be a comedian funnier behind the camera or doing voices than he is fronting a production, especially a production filled with high calibre actors such as Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson. MacFarlane acts as a strange protagonist in the guise of cowardly farmer Albert Stark with his performance neither highly enduring or highly annoying yet his delivery of material and presence on camera frequently feels awkward. MacFarlane’s role feels like it should’ve gone to a more seasoned comedic performer, a performer who would’ve made questionable material into something more and therefore generate a higher laugh ratio. The other aforementioned actors equip themselves well to what is no doubt a low brow comedy with Theron in particular seemingly having a blast and Giovanni Ribisi on fine from as usual as the hapless in love Edward. While these performers make up ground on MacFarlane’s strange role it’s also his material that lets the film down.
The Western genre has proven itself in times past ripe for the comedic picking in what else but Mel Brooks spoof classic Blazing Saddles, and the central premise at play here of the Wild West as one dangerous place is itself equally ripe but MacFarlane over-extends his grasp of what people came to see and instead fills the film with awkward and at many a times badly paced scripting moments that focus far too much on side shows when a more stream lined approach would of worked wonders on the films overall vibe. MacFarlane clearly thinks him romancing a woman of Theron’s stature is what we came to see, not horribly inventive and over the top Western quips and the films over reliance on smut, swearing and playing to the lowest common denominator can get old and does get old here fast.
Watching a Million Ways is like prospecting in old times of the gold rush, you have to pan through a lot of murk and muck to find small nuggets of gold but sometimes the endurance pays off with gems that make you wish for more golden times. There are laughs to be had here and there are some witty plays on the Western genre but overall this is quite a large misstep by a comedian that has so far ridden a saddled comedic horse to much fame and glory but you sense with this one it may in fact die a million different ways with some lackluster box-office, word of mouth and an overall sense of aiming low and still missing the mark. Mark this one down as a substantial disappointment on its original promise.
2 and a half “great Scott’s” out of 5