I’m a fan of Seth McFarlane. He’s one of those comedians who can truly make me laugh with his dry humor, quick wit and very cynical view of the world. I love Family Guy and American Dad because I know that something is going to make me laugh and laugh hard. Seth knows what’s funny, but somehow, that same humor doesn’t translate well from the small screen to the big screen. While his previous movie, Ted, felt more like a left-over script from Family Guy (with cut-aways included), I had my doubts on whether or not his second film would be something of an improvement.
Let’s look at the premise, which is as straight-forward as they come.
The story surrounds Albert Stark, a cowardly, meek-willed sheep farmer who absolutely loathes the idea that he lives in the Old West. As the movie title suggests, there a million ways that one can die, from simply walking out to the out-house and getting bitten by a rattlesnake, random attacks by Indians to even one’s own farts. The fact that one takes their lives in their hands just by waking up in the morning makes Albert something of a break-down and causes his love of his life Louise (played by Amanda Seyfried) to leave him. Depressed about losing his girlfriend as well as his lot in life, Albert decides that it’s best he leave his home, but not before he meets Anna (played by Charlize Theron), a mysterious and beautiful gun-slinger who one day appears in town and helps him look on the pretty side of his messed up life.
All is good for a time, but when Albert is challenged to a gun fight by the town’s richest man and his ex’s newest man Foy (played Neil Patrick Harris), it’s up to Anna to teach Albert the ropes in gun-slinging. An task easier said than done since Albert has zero talent with comes to handling a gun, let alone firing one. In the meantime, Anna’s hidden secret starts to catch up with her in the form of the county’s most dangerous outlaw Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), who rides into town, looking for the man who dares to take what is his.
Anyone who likes Seth MacFarlane’s humor will most likely this film. His brand of comedy is all over this movie. The quick witted dialogue is hilarious to listen to and it had me wondering if majority of it was actually scripted or if it was improvised. Seth’s observant jokes on the old west itself (like why people never smiled in photographs) are very smart. The dialogue exchange between actors feels natural and gave the impression that everyone was genuinely having a good time with the film. It was a refreshing thing to see that actors, especially highly decorated actors such as Theron and Neeson, could let their hair down and just be silly for once. I mean, seriously, how often to you see Liam Neeson being the usual badass, and in the next scene he has a sunflower stuck up his ass?
Yes, I said a sunflower…up his ass. The humor only gets dirtier and dirtier as the movie processes. A fair warning to anyone who goes to see this movie: as funny as the jokes are, they can be uncomfortable for some who aren’t used to it. Truly this a movie for Seth MacFarlane fans.
Sadly, the humor is the only thing holding this movie together, and even then, it quickly starts to wear thin after so long. Every single line of dialogue is written as a joke and unfortunately, that leaves very to little no room for actual character development. There’s practically never a situation where the comedy took a back seat for just a second for the characters to have some growth. Even when there is a tender exchange that goes on between Albert and Anna, the moment is filled with sarcasm and crude humor. I’m not above it, let me be clear, but having it constantly tossed about in every sentence, the humor starts to lose its punch and the film becomes boring and tired. Frankly by the end of the film, I just needed a break and was left wanting to see some real serious development between the two characters. Sadly, that never happened.
Just like with Ted, A Million Ways to Die in the West feels like another script from a Family Guy episode. I felt I could’ve watch this entire movie replaced with characters from the show and it still would’ve been just as entertaining. Strangely enough, it felt too much like a was watching a Family Guy episode. After some point, the humor just stopped being funny.
A Million Ways to Die in the West is film that I would recommend seeing, but not something that you need to go rushing out now this very second. It’s a fine average film with average humor for both people who like watching Family Guy, but not much more. And if the best jokes haven’t already been spoiled for you already in the trailers, well then, you might just get an extra laugh or two than I did. All in all, the movie is okay, but not with your $9 worth
OVERALL RATING: C-