A Million Ways to Die in the West


Year: 2014
Rated: 15
Director: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman, Giovanni Ribisi
Score: 1/5 (Would be 0/5 without the song ‘If You’ve Only Got a Moustache’)

Let’s start by retitling this as ‘A Million and One Ways to Die in the West’ with the additional death occurring from boredom when you watch this film. Seth MacFarlane writes, produces, directs, and stars in this supposed comedy about a modern man born in the wrong time who feels out of place in 1882 Arizona. MacFarlane, famed from his voiceover work in American Dad and Family Guy, should stick to what he knows best and not try his hand at acting again. His character (Albert) starts off timid and eventually (after 2 weeks) learns to be a man through love interest Anna (Charlize Theron). Everyone could see that happening from the trailers.

MacFarlane plays a human portrayal of Brian Griffin from Family Guy. He constantly tries to be funny by being racist and repeatedly disagreeing with what everyone takes as the norm. He uses ‘Mila Kunis’ as a Native American word, talks his way out of fights, and tries to make the film into a history lesson which is constantly interrupted by a random death. Death is constantly mentioned to occur at a young age (35 years according to Amanda Seyfried) yet the majority of actors are older than this and MacFarlane’s parents are still alive to deliver non-comedic support.

What could arguably be called the worst thing throughout the film are the cameos. Ewan McGregor plays a cowboy who disappears after his 1 line and Ryan Reynolds turns up for no reason at all. These aren’t that bad as they are fleeting and not memorable. The worst are two that don’t even fit in the timeline. Jamie Foxx reprises his role as Django Freeman 24 years after Django Unchained was set and Christopher Lloyd is seen as Doctor Emmett Brown. Doc’s cameo is potentially the best scene from the film but still doesn’t make any sense as he arrived in the Old West in 1885. It’s horribly used as MacFarlane is relying of the love of other films for his to work. It doesn’t.

There are three moments that stand out from the film and two are the ending (cheers) and the very beginning. The opening credit sequence  is a perfect rendition of classic Westerns. There are sweeping landscapes of the American horizon with the iconic opening credit typography. The only scene from the film that is a ‘you-have-to-see-this-film-because-of-this’ is a song devoted to moustaches which is lead by moustachery owner Neil Patrick Harris. That’s it. The rest of the film acts as a ‘Comedy Central Roast of Everyone in A Million Ways to Die in the West’ with MacFarlane acting as Roast Master where every joke bounces off of him and is at the expensive of the rest of the cast.

Some of the deaths bring a smile as they are all unique: crushed by ice, blown up camera, shot, run through by a bull, shot, death by fart etc. but the rest of the comedy leaves the audience wanting. Sarah Silverman plays a hooker who will sleep with ten people on a slow day and yet will not bed her fiancé (Giovanni Ribisi) because they are Christians. This seems funny the first time it’s shown but by the end of the film it seems like a Family Guy gag that goes on for too long. Fans of How I Met Your Mother will be able to imagine Barney telling the story of his great-great-grandfather as Neil Patrick Harris is depicted as the same person doing whatever he wants to in the bedroom, cracking jokes, and make puns about sheep in the same way he would about Canada.

The big question on the audience’s lips leaving this film will be how so many respected stars allowed themselves to be cast in this shoddy ‘comedy’. The only answer must be that MacFarlane owed them due to how regularly he makes them look like idiots on his shows. NPH plays the initial villain but only as a means for MacFarlane’s character to train as a gunman. Liam Neeson then enters the fray as the fastest gunslinger in the west  and he wants his wife back who, coincidently, is the new love of MacFarlane. Reynolds doesn’t play a strong part just like in Ted and once again Patrick Stewart provides a voiceover. And Leeson gets a flower put in his bum-crack. That’s the humour presented here.

This film will win awards no doubt. Not Oscars but Razzies. It’s definitely a contender for Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor, Worst Screen Combo, and Worst Screenplay. Let’s hope MacFarlane can learn from his abomination and make Ted 2 better than the first by limiting the similarities between his movies and his TV shows.

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