Film Review – A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

A Million Ways - post

Title – A Million Ways to Die In the West (2014)

Director – Seth MacFarlane (Ted)

Cast – Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Liam Neeson, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman

Plot – Cowardly farmer Albert (MacFarlane) must step up and prove his mettle against renowned gunslinger Clinch (Neeson) when he falls in love with his wife Anna (Theron). The Wild West however shows itself to be one mighty dangerous place.

 “Everything out here that’s not you, wants to kill you”

Review by Eddie on 30/05/2014

See the funny thing about A Million Ways to Die in the West is that it’s not actually all that funny. Sure there are some very hearty laughs in amongst the mix but for a film that boasts a run time of nigh on 2 hours the hit to miss ratio is worryingly in the favour of the latter. What makes this a funny type of thing is that with the continuing hit that is Family Guy and the box office behemoth that was Ted there were high noon hopes for this venture to the west by polarizing comedian/creator Seth MacFarlane but it seems the man himself has overestimated not only his own talents but the crux of many of his jokes.

MacFarlane is unquestionably a funny man, but as shown by his somewhat lacking Oscar hosting gig he may in fact be a comedian funnier behind the camera or doing voices than he is fronting a production, especially a production filled with high calibre actors such as Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson. MacFarlane acts as a strange protagonist in the guise of cowardly farmer Albert Stark with his performance neither highly enduring or highly annoying yet his delivery of material and presence on camera frequently feels awkward. MacFarlane’s role feels like it should’ve gone to a more seasoned comedic performer, a performer who would’ve made questionable material into something more and therefore generate a higher laugh ratio. The other aforementioned actors equip themselves well to what is no doubt a low brow comedy with Theron in particular seemingly having a blast and Giovanni Ribisi on fine from as usual as the hapless in love Edward. While these performers make up ground on MacFarlane’s strange role it’s also his material that lets the film down.

The Western genre has proven itself in times past ripe for the comedic picking in what else but Mel Brooks spoof classic Blazing Saddles, and the central premise at play here of the Wild West as one dangerous place is itself equally ripe but MacFarlane over-extends his grasp of what people came to see and instead fills the film with awkward and at many a times badly paced scripting moments that focus far too much on side shows when a more stream lined approach would of worked wonders on the films overall vibe. MacFarlane clearly thinks him romancing a woman of Theron’s stature is what we came to see, not horribly inventive and over the top Western quips and the films over reliance on smut, swearing and playing to the lowest common denominator can get old and does get old here fast.

Watching a Million Ways is like prospecting in old times of the gold rush, you have to pan through a lot of murk and muck to find small nuggets of gold but sometimes the endurance pays off with gems that make you wish for more golden times. There are laughs to be had here and there are some witty plays on the Western genre but overall this is quite a large misstep by a comedian that has so far ridden a saddled comedic horse to much fame and glory but you sense with this one it may in fact die a million different ways with some lackluster box-office, word of mouth and an overall sense of aiming low and still missing the mark. Mark this one down as a substantial disappointment on its original promise.

2 and a half “great Scott’s” out of 5

26 responses to “Film Review – A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

  1. Yeah I’m going to skip this one now for sure. I do like goofy and raunchy stuff-loved Neighbors and had tears in my during 21 Jump Street but this looked flimsy once I saw more clips beyond the trailer. Glad you saw though and lets us know! Thank you!

    • No worries at all Susan, I don’t mind silly and low brow but something was off about this one and I get the feeling it can largely be put down to MacFarlane.

  2. I’m a big fan of Family Guy, but I’ll probably skip this movie. After repeatedly seeing different trailers for this movie on tv, I feel like I’ve seen all the jokes already. Thanks for the review. I’m glad I read it before I thought about going to the theater to see this movie.

    • Hey mate I sense a pretty strong back lash against this flick, just seems to be really lacking and even big fans of MacFarlane will have a hard time sticking up for it. Has some moments but there few and far between.

  3. Hmm I thought that this film had potential, especially since I enjoy Family Guy and Ted, but having read your review I think I’ll give it a miss! Shame because MacFarlane is capable of some really funny stuff, perhaps he’s tried too hard this time. Thanks for the review (and saving me some disappointment!)

  4. You pretty much answered my question. I figured this would be exactly what you described. I loved the original run of Family Guy but, with American Dad, The Cleveland Show, and even Ted, McFarlane proved to me he has one way to tell a joke and that’s all he can do. While I think he is talented to a point, I think he got lucky with Family Guy and ran out of ideas and it turned into his political outlet instead of a quirky comedy.

  5. Shoot! I was hoping this would actually be funny. I find Family Guy to be pretty funny, though I don’t watch it as much as I used to. I really didn’t like Ted though. I’ll still probably check this out via Red Box whenever it hits there. I won’t spend much more than that to see it.

    • Hey dude wait for sure on this one especially if you didn’t think much of Ted this one was very much cut from the same cloth just lacked even more than that one though.

  6. Ever since the first trailer I have been excited about seeing this movie, so I was disappointed to say the least. I did laugh and some of it was very funny, but it does fall short in the end. You have an interesting idea about someone else doing Seth’s part. It makes one wonder what a young Billy Crystal would have done with this material. But the real problem is the writing I think, which is a shame. I really think he’s better than this.

    • Hi Joan pretty glad you felt similar – I didn’t want to seem cranky or unable to dig comedy but this all felt pretty off. Your right about the material though I think the whole script and story really lacked the needed goodness to make this into a comedy goldmine.

  7. I felt about the same as you did about this one. They only had a few jokes that weren’t in the trailers and then beyond that the story was not particularly engaging. Still it was fun as an overall parody of a western and the music kept me from getting bored. I was spending just as much time trying to piece together what the various themes were written for as I was with the writing itself. I think Joel McNeeley really did a great job with the music.

    • It did have a lot of great parody moments mate, wish there was more of that gold. Your right about McNeeley’s music, really nice throwback to the age of the Western.

  8. Probably one of those films where the trailer is better than the film. I did like the Back to the Future reference in the trailer. By the way that’s “mettle”, not “metal.” Mettle refers to (1) courage and fortitude, and (2) inherent quality of character and temperament. 🙂

    • Yeh Scotman I reckon the trailer might of made this one out to be a little more laugh a minute than it was – should of been trimmed by about 30 minutes as well. Cheers for the pick up in the spelling as well – you learn something everyday!

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