[FILM] A Million Ways To Die In The West

A Million Ways To Die In The West - Poster

“I know this is going to sound a little harsh, but I find MacFarlane funnier when I can’t see him.”

Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane) is a pretty useless sheep farmer who lives in Arizona circa 1882. He despises the frontier and decries the poor conditions at every opportunity. He’s so consumed with hate for where he lives that it seems to have stifled his ambition, and all he wants to do is bitch and moan. Things get so bad that his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) dumps him within the first five minutes of the film. He goes boozing with his pals Edward (Giovanni Ribisi), who is the sweet, simple one, and Edward’s girlfriend Ruth (Sarah Silverman), who also seems to be simple, but not all that sweet, because she’s a prostitute and she’s probably in actuality pretty sour on the inside.

New girl (or should I say, woman) Anna (Charlize Theron) then rolls into town and befriends Albert. In another montage (lots of them around lately) she teaches him how to shoot so he may protect himself against Louise’s new beau, a wonderfully moustachioed entrepreneur called Foy (Neil Patrick Harris), because Albert, in a ridiculous move, had challenged him to a duel. Naturally, over the course of the gun-toting montage, Albert and Anna begin to fall for one another. Things, however, don’t go according to plan due to the arrival of Anna’s dangerous outlaw husband Clinch (Liam Neeson), who obviously wants to kill Albert for macking on his missus.

It's time for a Special Spew Fun Fact! Did you know that the singular of "sheep" is "shoop"?

It’s time for a Special Spew Fun Fact! Did you know that the singular of “sheep” is “shoop”?

Where to begin? Written by, produced by, directed by and starring Seth MacFarlane, A Million Ways To Die In The West is probably the best example of self-insertion I’ve witnessed since I read that Twilight book. Albert is a self-professed nerd. Albert takes every opportunity he can to ensure that anyone who will listen is awed by his vocabulary and quick wit. Albert needs a lot of reassurance and the kick-ass female lead reminds him constantly of how amazing he is, what a catch he is and how his ex is insane for letting him go. Albert gets to outwit these hardened, homicidal cowboys at every turn. Albert gets the girl of his dreams and then gets to rebuff the one who had rejected him earlier. Yawn.

Seth MacFarlane’s performance, as you can probably guess by now, I found a little irritating. He seemed acutely aware of the camera, which, in honesty, is probably to be expected considering he spends most of his time behind it. I know this is going to sound a little harsh, but I find MacFarlane funnier when I can’t see him. Charlize Theron (Monster, Prometheus) did what she could with what she was given, though I often found that her laughter sounded overly forced. Sarah Silverman (Wreck-It Ralph, Bob’s Burgers) did her thing and talked about her lady-parts a lot. Amanda Seyfried (Lovelace, Les Miserables) was just there for pretty scenery, and Liam Neeson (Taken, Batman Begins) was, well, he was Liam Neeson.

The only bright(ish) star I could see shining through the gloom was probably Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), whose portrayal of Foy was what coaxed the biggest chuckles from yours truly.

That Mustache Song was damn catchy, to be fair. I was humming it for hours.

That Mustache Song was damn catchy, to be fair. I was humming it for hours.

I happen to think MacFarlane is a very talented fellow. I watch Family Guy and American Dad regularly. I enjoyed the stuffing out of Ted. A Million Ways To Die In The West though, just did not work for me. The kind of hit-and-miss humour employed works well in the media of television. If there’s a below par episode of Family Guy it’s not a big deal, because you’ve only wasted twenty-two minutes of your life and you know the next one could totally tickle your funny bone. I think farts are funny and I like stupid toilet humour, but not two hours of it. Not when the sum of the entire piece is just one giant flatulence gag. It appears that I only like my doses of MacFarlane when he’s taking the reigns behind the camera.

This is a poor story, poorly executed, and not nearly as clever as MacFarlane thinks it is. If, like me, you like a nice dollop of juvenile humour in your day, I still wouldn’t recommend you spend your hard-earned spondoolies on this in the theatres. If you really want to sate your curiosity, just wait for the rental. Trust me, all you’re missing is a man getting blasted with sheep piddle and NPH sharting into a Stetson.

IMDB Rating: 6.3
Do I agree?: No. It’s a 4, at best. Unambitious, uninspired and contrived.

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Categories: Film, Review

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39 replies

  1. Do you know, as much as I love his stuff, I had a feeling that this would be a bit pony… I’m glad you wrote this review as I shall definitely save myself the trip to the cinema now.

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    • I can tell you that a group of us went to see it, and we were divided. Some thought it was the funniest thing they’d seen in ages, others, like myself, came out saying, “Well that was kind of shit, wasn’t it?” But even so, I couldn’t recommend it for cinema viewing.

      Like

  2. Thanks for saving us all from seeing this. I had a passing interest, but now I know not to see it.

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  3. Agreed. Although one joke still has me in stitches two weeks after a viewing:

    Neeson: Where did you learn to shoot?
    Macfarlane: Your wife.
    Everyone else: Ohhhhhhhhh!!!

    I just found that hilarious.

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  4. Nice review, confirms my fears really. Also, why does McFarlane have “that face” all the time? Do a Google image search for him, and his face looks the same in every photo! I do agree he’s quite talented though. He’s a great singer as well. You should check out some of his kids on YouTube.

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  5. A poor man’s Blazing Saddles.

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  6. Shame, I had higher hopes for this one. Will probably wait for Netflix to see it. Nice review.

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  7. Good review. Wish it was a lot funnier. I also wish it didn’t seem to use the same jokes, over and over again.

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  8. That’s all well and good but what about their bellybuttons????

    Liked by 1 person

  9. i decided i didn’t want to see this once i saw the trailer, as it seemed like it had all been done before and better (Blazing Saddles) .. and from everything I have heard, I made the right choice. I agree with your point about MacFarlane being funnier when you can’t see him. I like Family Guy but I find MacFarlane insufferably smug, and perhaps this would be a funnier film if he had cast someone else in the lead. Also, ‘sharting’ is a new term to me; I think I know what it means. Thank you, I just had dinner.

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  10. Doesn’t sound too promising, think I’ll take your advice and avoid! A bit of a shame really, Ted was often funny. Great write-up!

    Adam.

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    • Thanks Adam! Yeah, Ted was a solid big-screen debut for MacFarlane, but this was nowhere near as funny. At least, not to me! I hope you do see it eventually though, as I’d be curious to learn your thoughts on it.

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  11. See, there’s the generation gap rearing its ugly head. You associate Neil Patrick Harris with “How I Met Your Mother.” I will always remember him as Doogie Howser.

    It’s a shame that such a group of talented individuals came together only to create such a dismal comedic mishmash. I wonder if, a few years down the road, they all might get together for a barbeque. After a few beers, Seth MacFarlane says, “Ya know, we haven’t all been together since the wrap party for “A Million Ways to Die In the West.”

    Liam Neeson, in that cold, calm, calculating voice that he used to threaten Marko, the sex trafficker in “Taken”, answers, “There are reasons for that Seth…good reasons, reasons that last for years without dying.”

    Sigh, I had high hopes for this one. How hard do you have to try to mess up a movie that has Amanda Seyfried and Charlize Theron in it?

    On the bright side, “Taken 3” is due out next year. :)

    Like

    • I had to Google Doogie Howser. I think, however, my lack of knowledge of early NPH is due to the fact that at that time, we got absolutely no American television over here. The exceptions being Dallas and Knotts Landing. And even those episodes were years behind!

      Man, I can absolutely picture Neeson saying that. He’s such a dude. And Taken 3? Can’t wait. :D

      Charlize did well enough I think, and at times it was obvious that there was a genuine friendship between her and MacFarlane, but this wasn’t at all the kind of script that required her to work hard for her money. As for Amanda Seyfried, what a waste of talent. Her character called for her to be bland, a shallow, fickle blank slate. That, she pulled off, but again, no challenge there. I was more than willing to give this flick a chance based on that cast alone, but not even these talented individuals could save it for me.

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  12. How disappointing. I was expecting better given how liked Ted and American Dad.

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  13. Hahah hilarious review V. We’re pretty much on the same page here, especially considering I too am a decent fan of MacFarlane’s work behind the camera. And ‘Ted’ was comparatively brilliant. AMWTDITW (what a freaking title, by the way…..even the acronym looks horrible!!) is just a sub-par movie for everyone involved. I was a little annoyed I bothered with this one when it was all said and done.

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    • I tried out the acronym when I was writing the review and immediately discarded it! What a title indeed.

      Yep, we’re definitely on the same page here. I was annoyed that I bothered too, but I was prepared for disappointment after reading your review. I really shouldn’t have wasted the time and money on it at the theatre, but the majority rules in these group outings! ;D

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  14. I can actually tell already I won’t like it and your review certainly helped. The premise is too gimmicky for me and I just love what you said about Seth MacFarlane; he *is* much funnier when you can’t see him.

    This is great by the way, thanks!

    Like

    • Cheers Jane! As a fellow fart enthusiast (we’ve no choice really) you, like myself, would appreciate the odd bit of toilet humour. This was a bit beyond that though. You’re exactly right, it was all very gimmicky.

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  15. “I know this is going to sound a little harsh, but I find MacFarlane funnier when I can’t see him.” Haha your face ruins it Seth xD

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  16. I’m not the biggest MacFarlane fan but I thought the trailer was funny and the cast was great, esp Neeson. But meh, now I’m not sure I even want to rent this. Maybe on a very s-l-o-w night, ahah.

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  17. Just today I was thinking of going to see this, but between you and other reviews I decided against it. Thanks for the good advice :)

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  18. The more I saw of the previews, the less interested I was to see it. You just convinced me fully not to bother. Thanks for taking one for the team.

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  19. Harsh words!! Not seen it, but as a Ted & Family Guy fan I’m ready for the low brow humour and references. :)

    Like

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