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Coming Up a Few Short – A review of A Million Ways to Die in the West

Updated on June 4, 2014
Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron star in the comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West
Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron star in the comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West

Title: A Million Ways to Die in the West

Production Company: Universal Pictures

Run Time: 116 minutes

Rated: R

Director: Seth MacFarlane

Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi

2 stars for A MIllion Ways to Die in the West

Summary: The old west is rolling over in its grave after the maligning it takes in this comedy by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. There are times that it’s so bad that it’s actually funny. At others, it’s just plain bad..

If you don’t know by now that most of the comedies that Hollywood bestows upon us more often than not end up on my “Don’t waste your time” list, you obviously haven’t been reading my columns.

This one almost found its way off that list. Note that I wrote “almost”.

While Seth MacFarlane doesn’t rank nearly as poorly on my comedic pariah list as such imbeciles as Will Farrell and Adam Sandler, I take everything he does and break it down succinctly and carefully. On the plus side, he hasn’t made me upchuck…at least not yet.

He has, however, managed to offend, enrage, infuriate, mystify, stupefy, annoy, exasperate, nauseate, vex, shock and irritate me. All in one movie, I might add.

Not to say that this movie is entirely bad, though. I like the basic concept. MacFarlane (who also wrote and directed this farce) stars as a sheep farmer named Albert who finds himself on the outs with his girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) who doesn’t find him exhilarating enough.

When a beautiful woman (Charlize Theron) shows up in town and expresses interest in Albert, he falls for her. She, however, is married to notorious gunslinger Clinch (Liam Neeson) and he doesn’t take kindly to having his lady romancing another guy.

So in inimitable old west fashion, there’s going to be a duel. Actually there are two of them in the picture. This one, and the one that involves Neil Patrick Harris, the boor who ends up dating Louise after she dumps Albert.

If you feel at this point like a scorecard would help, I’ll just say this. It won’t. The story is sophomoric at best.

Throughout the story, MacFarlane revels in showing us various accidents that cause the deaths of numerous residents of the Arizona town where the fair is a perfect staging ground for demise.

Blocks of ice crush people. Bulls gore men to death. Cameras explode and ignite photographers and patrons alike. And of course, guns in the hands of bad people kill people.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Even passing gas can kill you if you aren’t careful.

This is the humor one can expect from the man who gave us Family Guy, though. It’s also what passes for funny in Hollywood. The day of the wholesome comedy is dead and buried, shot through the heart by the powers-that-be who green-lighted this picture.

The film does have good elements, though. Anna (Theron) and Albert muse about the shallowness of love in the world. Nice guys do tend to finish last. And if you’ve got money and a moustache, the world is your oyster. Not to mention the women.

There are also the obligatory illegal substance references and then there’s Albert’s best friend Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) who is dating one of the town prostitutes. They’re saving themselves for each other even though she’s been with most of the men in town.

MacFarlane is certainly likable, as is Theron, but most of the other characters are fairly one dimensional and largely uninteresting.

Neeson’s killer has been seen time and again in old westerns. He’s dressed completely in black and practically screams out at moviegoers that “I’m badass and will kill everyone I see”. Until he gets what’s coming to him, of course.

Harris becomes the butt of the joke in the middle of the movie when the duel he’s supposed to be fighting with Albert ends up being cancelled because of a rather crappy situation.

The cameos are rather funny, though. Among the guest actors who appear throughout the movie are Christopher Lloyd (as Doc Brown from Back to the Future), Jamie Foxx, Ryan Reynolds and Ewan McGregor. Too bad they aren’t reason enough to see the movie and the best of the cameos was already shown in the movie trailer.

Unfortunately I think I revealed everything funny that you can expect from the movie in my review. So now you have no more excuses to go unless you’re hell bent on spending your money. Stay home. It’ll be in your local Redbox in a week or three.

I give “A Million Ways to Die at the Box Office”…er, “A Million Ways to Die in the West” a well deserved two out of five stars.

What is Seth MacFarlane's funniest project?

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