A Million Ways to Die in the West Movie Review
A Million Ways to Die in the West Movie Review Metadata
Be warned right off the bat. If you are offended by ethnic jokes, potty humor or even anti-American jokes you might as well stop reading now. Basically if you are not a fan of Seth MacFarlane’s previous work you will absolutely not like this movie. A Million Ways to Die in the West is a raunchy western comedy rated R for strong crude and sexual content, language throughout, some violence and drug material.
Audiences have been waiting patiently for MacFarlane’s next body of work for two years. He is the director, writer and main star of A Million Ways to Die in the West. The movie is set back in 1882 in the West where the world is mean, dirty and unforgiving. This is a comedy though so everything is done with a humorous tone throughout. The bar was set high with his first full length feature film Ted.
The formula used for A Million Ways to Die in the West is very similar to that of Ted. There are many offensive jokes, singing, dancing and even some of the same actors. The main costars are Charlize Theron, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson. Charlize Theron plays Anna, a mysterious girl who rolls into town with her brother. She befriends Albert (Seth MacFarlane) and they pretty much have an instant connection. His best friend is Edward (Ribisi) who is in love with a prostitute that he has never been with (Silverman).
There’s very strong chemistry onscreen between MacFarlane and Theron. They play well off of one another and she’s definitely not intimidated by MacFarlane’s humor. There are several times throughout the movie where you might wonder how much of it was improv. It almost feels like a Saturday Night Live skit at times and I mean that in a good way. Giovanni Ribisi was great in Ted in his somewhat limited role and he shines in A Million Ways to Die in the West as well. Neil Patrick Harris has always been one to own whatever role he plays and this is no different. Kind of lost in the comedic shuffle are Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson. Both were stiff and uninspired. I’m not sure that Neeson is ready to handle a role like this. He has a particular set of skills but comedy isn’t one of them.
The downside to A Million Ways to Die in the West is really two-fold. There were far too many adolescent jokes. You can only have so many intestinal gags in one movie. Some of the scenes just seemed like lazy writing as there was no real creativity. Pretty much the audience knows exactly what’s coming by the way the scenes are setup. All of this leads to the biggest downfall of the movie which was its length. It clocks in at a hefty 116 minutes. There could have easily been about 20 – 25 minutes edited out and it would have made for a much more entertaining flick. Also some of the letdown could possibly due to the TV spots and trailers. Far too much is given away and most of the really good jokes have already been hinted to. In the latest TV spot one of the biggest cameos is exposed. That’s just poor marketing as far as I’m concerned and maybe even a sign of panic.
All in all A Million Ways to Die in the West is just another middle of the road silly comedy. It has its shining moments but far too few for the movie’s length. While definitely watchable and enjoyable for the right audience it is by no means a must see now movie. If you catch it at a matinee I would say that you wouldn’t be wasting your money. It should have decent success at theaters but won’t do anywhere near as well as Ted. Blazing Saddles is still head and shoulders above this one. Whenever you do get around to watching it though make sure to stay until the very end of the credits. There are two additional scenes at the end.
This is disappointing to read, but definitely makes sense. Straight omedies need to be 90-95 minutes max; romantic comedies no more than 105 minutes.
Trailers continue to be he downfall for comedy certainly but also action and other movies. Producers are so concerned about getting people to the movie, the spoil the actual event with either the best comedic moments or even the outcome of the movie. I have found that ignoring any TV spots and only watching previews (because you are forced) helps to skip some of the best moments.
Excellent review Carl. I agree agree with your critique.