A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

millionwaystodieinthewest_2014_poster
A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)
  • Time: 116 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Western
  • Director: Seth MacFarlane
  • Cast: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi

Storyline:

Seth MacFarlane directs, produces, co-writes and plays the role of the cowardly sheep farmer Albert in A Million Ways to Die in the West. After Albert backs out of a gunfight, his fickle girlfriend leaves him for another man. When a mysterious and beautiful woman rides into town, she helps him find his courage and they begin to fall in love. But when her husband, a notorious outlaw, arrives seeking revenge, the farmer must put his newfound courage to the test. Starring alongside MacFarlane are Oscar (R) winner Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman and Neil Patrick Harris.

4 reviews

  • (Rating: 1,5 / 5) The man who once wanted to be Frank Sinatra (in the wake of other artists including Bruce Willis and Scarlett Johansson, recording their own music CD), again does the same crap with which he built his fortune. While much of its garbage is funny, here the momentum waned a disturbing way. “A Million Ways To Die In The West” should be next to “Ride Along” (not released in many countries) as the worst American comedies of the year, possibly worse than “Movie 43″.

    Seth MacFarlane’s humor is the upper middle class (if there is in comedy that term). As an average american sitcom, is a carefree humor out of the “everyday” problems of “normal” people (eg old episodes of “The Simpsons”), and with a certain novelty value as to deconstruct the Puritans while still content to mass audiences. It is no coincidence that combines Big-Band for grotesque humor at the Oscars. The problem here is that MacFarlane has melted down badly with extreme humor, without maintaining a proper balance. And if “Ted” was a hardly funny comedy, “A Million Ways To Die In The West” is a project of the MacFarlane huge ego.

    Because this movie, despite enter the American patriotic little heart (the West), remains a stronghold of “Ted.” Not only the argument pursued obsession love of a couple, but even some jokes repeated the concepts envisioned in “Ted”. The first problem is modernity: it is true that this is a comedy, and MacFarlane will do any anachronism attempt to the joke of the day; but even so the film is too neat for cynicism. All the characters are quite clean, talk on equal terms, their vocabulary is quite advanced, their voice is not exactly modest, etc… This modernism flattens comedy and categorized in a single level. After all, the grace of period satire is that people laugh at the naivete or the rigidity of those years; or at least serve as a parody of Westerns movies (like “Casa De Mi Padre”). In this production such a thing does not happen, they are people of the XXI century with dresses of two hundred years ago.

    But the fault lies not only in its modernity, but the comedy itself, repeating Americans vices. MacFarlane does not understand the word “subtlety” (Ironic isn’t it? Even “A Serbian Film” understand this word) and from the first minutes bombarded with jokes rather extreme. But the question is not the joke, but its use. Instead of being smart and apply the formula of Wes Anderson (where the joke is an incidental consequence), Seth floods with an excess of literature, where the characters never get to the point because they use any conversation (serious or not) to recharge of jokes, so the conversations are just mazes where much jokes and explains little (on the contrary, are usually very explanatory and retailers about privacy or the heavy job of any of the characters, which is embarrassing and boring). This excessive literature ends punishing, and as soon as the actors open their mouths are buried and become, like in a bad film by Jean-Luques Godard, in simple things reciting the megalomanias of his author. In this swamp hardly barely protrudes Charlize Theron, but even MacFarlane sinks into the literal mixture.

    But if the comedy is bad, as director Seth MacFarlane shows bad taste with violence. Not that one does not laugh at the brutality (eg it’s funny “Home Alone” or cartoons “Tom & Jerry”), but in the best cases the brutality did not break a bond of complicity with the public, or at least audience laughs because identifies with the pain felt by the inmate. But here the goal is to impact, and then the film abruptly changes tone, from the silly comedy in seconds to an impressive violence… to continue with another funny thing.

    Not even Liam Nesson is unharmed about the ribald comedy, but his performance is still pretty good and sinister, and even in a few scenes one can feel that Nesson seems to be acting in a movie better than this. There are uninspired cameos.

    Not much more to say, just point out the limitations of a ribald humor. Seth MacFarlane does not know that to make a production of this caliber, at least have the courage to devise a Trash context (as in the John Waters bold movies). If the film was low class, if clothes were dirty or broken, if the budget was very poor, if all the actors were uninhibited, if the whole scenario was distasteful, then perhaps MacFarlane’s humor would have a junky thrill. But MacFarlane does not want to give up his clean-shaven face, does not want to give up his prolixity, does not want to give up his showman identity that links to the fashion spirit of a teen that will keep him at the box office.

  • In 1882 Arizona, sheep farmer Albert, downhearted after girlfriend Louise dumps him for sleazy Moustachery proprietor Foy, is helped by gorgeous newcomer Anna to work on getting her back. What Anna doesn’t tell him is that she is married to blackhearted murderer Clinch. I’m not terribly au fait with Seth MacFarlane. I saw Ted, and I know he is responsible for Family Guy (which I don’t watch), and he does voices, so I have a reasonable idea of what he’s all about, but I don’t have much experience of his work. I can’t say that I came to this cold, though, because I’ve seen the trailer about a million times. Not in the west, though.

    And it’s pretty much as I expected – a traditional western-type story, told through modern eyes, and loaded to the gills with gags and filth. As with any comedy of this type (ie. non-stop gags of all sorts – dialogue, character, plot, sight, slapstick, situation, in-jokes), not all the jokes succeed, but enough of them work that the film is funny all the way through.

    Make no mistake, it is filthy – as well as fairly non-stop swearing, there is also lots of sexual talk (though, as usual with US films, nothing visual) and a moderate amount of toilet-oriented material. Literally. If you are easily offended, do not see this film under any circumstances whatsoever.

    The film looks gorgeous, making the most of its locations, everyone in it obviously has a lot of fun, and MacFarlane is a pleasing leading man – amiable and sympathetic. There are a handful of cameos, one of which is great fun ( points awarded for identifying the word I nearly said instead of “fun”). And the music is amusingly pastiched from every western soundtrack ever.

  • A cowardly sheep farmer is left feeling depressed when his girlfriend breaks-up with him, however when a mysterious new woman arrives in town, he must prove his new-found courage to the test when her husband, a notorious gun-slinger arrives in town.

    This is Seth MacFarlane’s second film he has written and directed and the first he has starred in as a live-action character. Ted was a great film to start the Family Guy creator’s film career and there is huge expectations for A Million Ways to Die in the West to be just as good if not better.

    Sadly, A Million Ways to Die in the West falls flat on its face, MacFarlane tries too hard to make the film funny and only hinders it. There are many reasons (which I will delve into later) as to why this is a bad film, but it is clear MacFarlane took the success of Ted to his head and figured anything he could do would be gold.

    To begin with there is way too much toilet humour. As a fan of Seth MacFarlane, you know what to expect in his comedy, lowbrow humour with…To read the full review click here.

  • If you enjoy the sight of Liam Neeson’s arse having a dandelion stuck in it, Neil Patrick Harris defecating into a couple of cowboy hats (and having the camera pan down to show a ton of poop), and the constant sight of horse dung, then by golly this is the movie for you. Yes, Seth MacFarlane is at it again. He did a fine job hosting the Oscars and managed to make the aggressively funny Ted. Here he strikes out with 2014’s wild wild west spoof, A Million Ways to Die in the West. You see his 2012 release Ted pushed the envelope with a forced crassness that truly worked. With his latest release however, he doesn’t get a whole lot of laughs. “West” is vulgar for the sake of being vulgar, crude for the sake of being crude, and gross for the sake of being gross. There is virtually no humor in the screenplay. The result: the jokes fall flat as pancakes and you as the audience member, start to look at your watch and nod your head in disbelief. MacFarlane, acting as star, director, and producer here, gets on a mini ego trip trying to do what the Zucker brothers did with Airplane (spoofing air travel and airports) and the Wayans brothers did with Scary Movie (spoofing the horror genre and every other genre for that matter). He fails most contingently with a fine cast (Oscar nominees/winners Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson who deserve better) and tired jokes that actually render things a little boring (“West” is probably 20 minutes too long).

    Containing an obligatory musical score lifted from every single Western (known to man) and featuring a lingo of dialogue by which no human being would ever speak in the late 1800’s, A Million Ways to Die in the West follows a whiny, down his luck sheep farmer named Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane). As the proceedings begin, he loses his girlfriend to a wealthy mustache shop owner named Foy (played by Neil Patrick Harris who provides the film’s only real chuckles). Stark complains that the town he lives in is plagued by disease, murder, and death in general. When he befriends a new town resident named Anna (the stunning Charlize Theron), he is smitten with her. They become close, form a relationship, and ultimately fall prey to Theron’s character’s evil husband (Clinch Leatherwood played by Liam Neeson). This plot thread just mentioned, somewhat deviates from the general “so stupid it’s funny” element thereby making “West” a sort of black comedy that doesn’t quite gel. As things get closer to wrapping up, Theron’s Anna teaches Stark to become a great shot so that he can eventually confront and kill Leatherwood. Everyone can live happily ever after and Stark can avoid leaving his small Arizona town in order to move to San Francisco.

    Now the acting is fairly decent but certain characters seem to belong in a different flick altogether. Liam Neeson’s Clinch Leatherwood is a prime example. He plays effectively, the outlaw or villain if you will. But there is nothing goofy or humorous about his performance. Everyone around him seems to carry a different tone. They are all playing for laughs while Neeson is gruff and out of place. As for MacFarlane, he’s not a bad actor but doesn’t quite have the chops to really carry a whole film. His Stark is ill-defined. It’s as if he came from a different century or era. Heck, he talks about his gun slinging town as if he entered from the future and was stuck in some unforgiving time warp. All in all, he should probably just stick to doing roles like the voice of the despicable teddy bear from Ted. He brings the funny so much more when reading from a microphone in a sound proof booth.

    Ultimately, this is a redundantly flat and uneven comedy. I didn’t get the humor in the 1974 classic Blazing Saddles (of which this film was clearly inspired by) and I sure didn’t get the humor in what’s featured here. Bottom line: A Million Ways to Die in the West possesses about “a million ways” not to make you laugh. Just call it one of 2014’s weakest entries so far.

    Of note: (spoiler alerts) if you choose to purchase a ticket to this unfunny monstrosity, watch for the ending in which MacFarlane’s character wins some reward money (in a gun-fueled shootout) and uses said money to buy thousands of sheep for his homestead (he’s a lousy sheep herder so this makes no sense whatsoever). Then there are a couple of meaningless cameos in the form of Jamie Foxx (showing up obviously as a nod to his role in Django Unchained) and Christopher Lloyd (looking like he’s 1000 years old) reprising his role as Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Their scenes are just plain arbitrary and too short to register.

    Rating: 2 out of 4 stars

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