A Million Ways to Die in The West
Written by Steven Panzarella(@ProCreateSteve)
The Short- Trying to replicate Blazing Saddles and other classic comedies Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in The West is at times clever, at times funny but never all at once. Thanks to a miserable marketing campaign that revealed nearly every clever moment of the film (especially what should have been the film’s most Meta moment) the jokes grow tired as the film goes on. It is not without great moments but they are so few and far between that A Million Ways is only funny at times and it’s mostly thanks to a great cast.
Coming off the success of Ted, Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane turned to his western parody A Million Ways to Die in The West. Figuring to make something like classic Western parody Blazing Saddles, MacFarlane teamed up with often collaborators Alec Sulkin, and Wellesley Wild for a movie about a normal speaking sheep farmer who almost always finds himself in tough situations and does just enough to talk his way out. Hating the Wild West lifestyle Albert Stark (MacFarlane) is just about to leave town for good when he meets the mysterious Anna (Theron) whom he befriends. What he doesn’t know is Anna is the wife of the best shot in the west and notorious outlaw Clinch (Neeson). A Million Ways to Die in The West could be described as a funny movie and I am sure some people really enjoyed it. I would have enjoyed it too, but I didn’t like the fact that I had seen all of the movies funny jokes in the trailers. A common mistake being made by the marketing teams for comedies these days is revealing all of the good stuff before the movie comes out. It’s the reason why I won’t be posting a trailer to this review, and it’s the main reason why I found the movie at times unenjoyable.
MacFarlane puts a great cast together that includes Liam Neeson as the bad guy, Amanda Seyfried as Albert Starks former flame, Neil Patrick Harris as her well groomed new boyfriend, along with Giovanni Ribisi as Albert’s best friend Edward, and Sarah Silverman as Edwards prostitute girlfriend who ironically refuses to have sex with him until marriage. The cast is funny and they all play fairly well together, it’s Patrick Harris per usual who wrangles some scenes away from MacFarlane even though he is not in the movie for as much as I would have liked. Theron and MacFarlane have decent chemistry, even if Theron is better in every single one of her scenes which will probably not come as a surprise. Liam Neeson as the main villain is also a nice addition, one of the actor’s first major roles as a bad guy and he does it very well as he turns in a good performance as the wonderfully sinister outlaw. The rest of the cast follows suit and a few good cameos also help move the film along. Even if the movies best cameo was ruined in a TV spot released the week before the movie hit theaters.
A Million Ways to Die in The West tries so desperately to be a memorable parody and it succeeds on occasion, but it’s the repetitive joke telling that I found too desperate to be funny. It was like MacFarlane and company knew what the sweet spot would be and thought hitting it with the same 10 jokes about why no one smiled in pictures or people dying horribly and in public was all the audience wanted for nearly 2 hours. The reason why Ted was such a hilarious comedy was because it was creative and new and different, A Million Ways to Die in The West succeeds in being a western parody with loads of pop culture references but far too often does Seth MacFarlane try too hard to be funny putting more emphasis on things he’s already gone over and spends less time trying to find something new.
For a close to 2 hour comedy A Million Ways to Die in the west is not nearly as funny as it could have been and does not do enough to make me love this attempted parody. It is a funny movie but it could have been a better representation of MacFarlane’s pop culture parody if it weren’t for casual misfires in the script and too much given away in the form of overindulgent trailer’s that gave each and every memorable moment away in a much shorter time.