A Million Ways to Die in the West

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Released: Friday, May 30, 2014

[Theater]

Oh, Seth. Seth, Seth, Seth, Seth, Seth. . . . .

Seth MacFarlane. It’s a name a great many are likely tiring of by now, maybe for good reason, maybe for ones less so. Judge as you will, but I’ve tried to make a case for the guy for awhile. I’m on my last legs.

For me it’s never been an issue how stupid the comedy has been. . .and we have gone to some fairly asinine places. One need look no further than Family Guy‘s running joke about Peter and how whenever he trips and scuffs his knee he whines like a baby for about two solid minutes of their precious air time. Or beyond the show’s myriad other deliciously tasteless jokes that have offended every culture from here to Hanoi.

The guy loves what he does and the passion effloresces in virtually everything his pervy hands have touched. That it takes a brain running on nothing but gasoline and guano to understand most of the humor MacFarlane now barricades behind him, arms folded with just the yuppiest of grins plastered on his face, well that’s just no surprise. Family Guy et al aren’t particularly high-brow concepts, and that’s quite alright with me. I have laughed, and I have laughed hard.

I have little patience for lazy filmmaking, though. It’s also a phenomenon that makes even less sense. Of all qualities a director, producer, writer and star (and in this case, MacFarlane is all of these things) can possess when shouldered with the responsibility of producing content for an audience that he’s been comfortable with for years producing content for, the last thing one thinks of is apathy. A Million Ways to Die in the West is a sham of an effort from an entertainer who really ought to know better. Consequently, I can only shake my head and crap myself awkwardly. (Actually, I don’t know why I did the second thing, or why I owned up to it. Whatever. It’s too late now.)

Seth, where’s the motivation, man?

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“Nah, it’s alright. We’ll get the title right next time this movie comes through.”

Recycled gags and scatological humor run amok out here in the wild west, a theme that has stuck with the creator of Ted like a wet turd on velcro. This is the story of a lowly sheepherder, Albert Stark (MacFarlane), who eventually comes into his own as a proud, confident and respected member of the small dustbowl community of Old Stump.

Well, he doesn’t exactly come into his own by accident. No. That’s actually thanks to the sudden appearance of a mysterious woman named Anna (Charlize Theron) who rides into town one day with a band of baddies who are seeking gold deposits in the area and are led by one bad cowpoke by the name of Clinch (Liam Neeson).

As is the case in many a MacFarlane production, plot elements and developments are highly contrived and conveniently staged. His Albert sure didn’t have to do a whole lot of. . . .shepherding. . . to impress the new lady in town. It all comes together somewhat (in)organically, thanks to a script that might as well have been penned by a retarded sheep. The entire premise is one drawn-out and predictable affair, as Albert faces a series of gun fights in the center of town against multiple villains, none of which he’s had much preparation for. Not to mention, the story shockingly lacks the energy and enthusiasm typical of the man’s controversial work. Instead of being plump with brand-new side-slapping jokes, we get a different variation of the crass monuments the man has spent a lifetime erecting behind a microphone and hilarious animation.

Maybe the punishment fits the crime? My naïveté for hoping for something more original has landed me in a world of disappointment.

If he’s not careful, A Million Ways to Die in the West might well be the final frontier of MacFarlane’s live-action film-making career. It is not a good movie, and while disappointment might seem like an all but predictable conclusion to arrive at it is certainly the case here. A Million Ways to Die in the West. . .more like a million ways to yawn in your seat.

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2-0Recommendation: This isn’t a good film, even by Seth MacFarlane standards. The guy may have only made two live-action films, but his first stab at it still claims the higher ground. A Million Ways to Die in the West suffers from an uninspired premise and incredibly flat performances that are of no one’s fault but the script’s. Liam Neeson comes to work each day, this we can tell — and ditto that to Charlize Theron and Neil Patrick Harris. But the rest telegraph it in, including MacFarlane as a director and co-writer. Personally, I hope he sticks to animated TV shows more in the future.

Rated: R

Running Time: 116 mins.

Quoted: “Please don’t shoot us on sex night!”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

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45 thoughts on “A Million Ways to Die in the West

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    • Hey Josh! Welcome back man 😀 😀

      Uhmmm…yes. You could afford to stay clear of this if you haven’t been particularly taken by him before. If you weren’t a fan of Ted, then that’s the best indicator this has nothing for you.

      • I have no idea if I’m a fan of Ted. I was in the theater to see it, sat through twenty bloody minutes of boring trailers I had seen fifteen previous times, each, plus a couple of commercials and Carmike theater’s stupid Price Buster BS, and then their particular “turn off your cell phone” admonishment, when suddenly, what should happen, but my own cell phone buzzed?

        The message: my wife saying the kids were going ape crazy and she needed help. Could I please come home.

        Bah.

        And so I never saw it.

          • Maybe.

            Should I rent it? As someone who never got Family Guy but had nothing against McFarlane’s turn as Oscar host, would I enjoy it?

            • I would say Ted would appeal. Its surprisingly deep and heartfelt, though the way the story’s assembled is nothing short of conventional and predictable. But the novelty of this live-action bear helps to balance that out. I say go for it. Depending on how much you like it then you can really assess this one. 🙂

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  6. Haha! Oh dear. I just reviewed this one. Don’t go read it!!!! Lol! Well… We USUALLY agree on things… ; ) To be fair, I didn’t LOVE it. I thought it was average. But I seemed to like it much more than you did! Sorry this one didn’t work for you. : )

    • Teeehee! I think I’ll be checking that out here in a bit, then! I always am interested in reading the completely opposite point of view or whatever. It’s nice getting different perspectives, and I so wish I could have liked this one more. Especially given my tendency to chuckle at his insanely immature stuff like a child usually.

  7. I’m not a huge fan of Seth but I thought the trailer looked funny. Heh, now I might just rent this on a s-l-o-w night.

    • Yeah, a verrrrry slow night at that Ruth. I don’t know though, you might just be able to let a lot of criticism go and have a few chuckles here. But if you’re not the biggest fan of him going in, I’m not sure how this film will help. He’s doing his usual thing except for me, his material wasn’t as strong. Thanks for reading Ruth!

    • I don’t really see him doing anything for MTV. I think he just needs to stick to animation and voiceover work. MacFarlane’s not exactly lead-actor material. But he’s a funny guy. Thanks for reading!

  8. I am still going to watch it and hope that I am like some of the reviews that I have seen who found it hilarious despite its flaws. The cast is fantastic and Neil Patrick Harris is always a blast to watch. As you even pointed out! I loved Ted and realize that Seth is very hit or miss but eh…I feel it deserves a chance at the very list. The plot does look very predictable and boring though judging from the trailer!

    Sorry that it made you crap yourself dude. I hope you made it to the toilet at least!

    • Wow, thanks again WordPress. Yet another batch of comments I have apparently glossed over completely.

      (Actually, its because I don’t like you guys. Lol!!!)

      The cast is fantastic and each of them do end up having their own little moment. But taken as a whole (and depending upon how much you kind of are expecting from it) AMWTDITW is kind of a mixed bag of Seth MacFarlane’s good, bad and the ugly. His Ted showed potential. This is kind of like a bad episode of Family Guy, which might make more sense.

      And no, unfortunately I didn’t make it. It was kind of embarrassing.

  9. “Not funny” seems to be the consensus regarding AMWTDITW, which is sad, considering the huge amount of potential this one had. I’ve been preparing for the worst ever since the awful trailer. I think I’ll stick with Seth MacFarlane: crooner, since that’s my favorite side of him.

    • Bravo! Yeah, good grief where is this side of Macfarlane more often? This was great, thanks for posting dude.

      As for this movie, there were parts where I was actually laughing a lot, but there’s neither anything here I haven’t seen before nor anything really really REALLY funny, so its a letdown either way

      • You’re welcome. I highly recommend his album “Music is Better Than Words”. Really good if you’re into that type of thing.

        I’ll let you know how much (or if) I laughed when I see this one.

    • Right? He may forever be born to frustrate a lot of viewers, maybe even a lot of his fans. He can totally do better than this, and Ted is proof.

      I’ve seen epi’s of Family Guy that are better and more consistently funny than this thing

  10. It’s interesting how some movies are beloved for their scatological humor (Ted) and others are reviled (A Million Ways to Die in the West). I’ve always said, comedy is the most subjective of all genres.

    • “Seth, where’s the motivation, man?”

      Relatively speaking, this is a worse product than his others. . .which is why I had to make comments like that in the review. It does seem counterintuitive to be complaining about a guy who sets the bar so low in terms of ‘intelligent’ or dare I say it provocative comedy, but really. This is a pretty weak effort in my eyes. He could have done better. Ted was an example of him taking a concept and running with it like he always does, but it was a strong concept to begin with. I’m thinking there wasn’t really much of an idea here, other than him wanting to just leave his own imprint on the Western.

      But you’re right, comedies are pretty much the most subjective of genres!

    • Thanks very much Eric, it is a wonder what kind of pull these shmucks can have, eh? He being able to rope in Mila Kunis for Family Guy is equally impressive in my book. But now I’m sounding harsh. I sound like I don’t like MacFarlane. I do. I just think he could do better than this. This to me seems to have a case of the Adam Sandler syndrome.

    • lol it was pretty disappointing man. No need to go looking for this one. Maybe if you’re curious when it pops out on DVD or Netflix, but even then. . .this plays out with the enthusiasm and intelligence and logic of one of the worst epi’s of Family Guy.

    • Yeah it kind of is Alex. I shouldn’t have expected much, but I sure think I and the general public deserved more than this! hah

      Thanks for reading as always 🙂

  11. Yup, this is a movie I have no desire to see. Thanks for confirming! Sums it up right here: “Recycled gags and scatological humor run amok out here in the wild west, a theme that has stuck with the creator of Ted like a wet turd on velcro.” Yup.

    >

    • Cheers Roy! Thanks for stopping by my site man. Yeah unfortunately this movie just fell way short of it’s own modest goals. The title even seems extremely shoehorned in. This was just not a quality project at all.

    • Definitely is man, I had relatively high hopes. I mean, not so high. This is Macfarlane we’re talking about 😀

    • For what it’s worth Neeson remains relatively unscathed even though he doesn’t do much different from his normal growling dramatics. haha. He is out of place here but in the funniest way. I actually really thought he did alright. Charlize Theron, too. And of course who can’t love Neil Patrick Harris? Outside of them, though. Goodness. There were a lot of cringe-worthy moments, I have to say!

  12. I did laugh on some very rare occasions, but not nearly as much as I would have liked. I also got annoyed half-way through when I realized this was Seth MacFarlane doing what he usually does on Family Guy: Repeat the same jokes, over and over again. Except this time, it was worse because it was nearly a two-hour movie. Good review Tom.

    • Precisely man, although I was fine with this being a Family Guy movie. You kind of have to expect that from this guy, he doesn’t deviate from his comfort zone a lot. Problem is, when the material is decent but the direction or story isn’t original, then it’s going to be probably disappointing. Like I don’t see much difference between this and Ted, but Ted somehow was still a far better film. Maybe it was just the stuffed bear, though. haha

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