Seth MacFarlane hit comedic gold with Ted, has hosted the Oscars, and came up with one of the funniest shows out there, Family Guy. However, just like that show, he’s losing steam and we witness that in his latest, A Million Ways to Die in the West, which fails to rise above the mess it’s created.
At least there’s beautiful cinematography and awe-inspiring shots of Arizona and I applaud Joel McNeely’s score, which gives us the epic sound of a Western. Also, MacFarlane can still pull off a good dance number (“Mustache” was catchy) and there’s a few good slapstick moments that made me think of Family Guy montages.
Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson nail their parts nicely. Theron is a wisecracking, gun-toting beauty that knows how to take care of herself and even has nice chemistry with MacFarlane. Neeson nails down a gruff, shoot first, talk later gunfighter and owns the screen when he appears.
By day, I’m a gunfighter. By night, I’m Bryan Mills.
Oh, my. Here this premise. MacFarlane is Albert Clark, a sheep farmer that chickens out of a showdown with a vicious gunfighter and loses his girlfriend, Louise (played blandly by Amanda Seyfried) in the process. He goes on an old-fashioned bender and finds himself whining about how bad it is in the West. The first time, it’s hilarious. The next 15 times, it was like the town drunk was given a soapbox and he never stopped talking.
Meanwhile, Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), is the most vicious gunfighter in the West… The most vicious gunfighter in the…okay! Seth, we got it. He’s having marital problems with his wife, Anna (Charlize Theron) with just one bullet for this old-timer. Anna runs off and moves into the town where Albert lives. A romance begins to spark after they meet Louise’s new beau (with a mustache), Foy (Neil Patrick Harris) who wants to have a showdown for the bland, big eyed, Louise. Why does this feel like a mishmash? That’s because it turns into one.
As for Seyfried, she once again continues to prove that she’s just a pretty face who can’t generate any appeal or charisma for any of her characters. I have seen her films and for an actress, she’s a good singer, though. The supporting cast as a whole is wasted. You even witness Sarah Silverman become… unfunny. I know it’s a shock, it was a shock to me too.
You give Amanda Seyfried more time than this far better comedienne?!
MacFarlane wants this to be Family Guy Goes West, but the problem is his brand of foul-mouthed, pop culture-reliant humor doesn’t mix in with the wild, wild Western culture. Obviously, he doesn’t like the West. He drones on and on about how bad the West is. However, he delivers it as a cynic who doesn’t want to embrace it but complain over, over, over (15 minutes later)… and over. See? It gets a bit annoying.
Why couldn’t this have been animated with Peter Griffin?
This may sound like I’m on my soapbox but when I see cameos laced all over the place in animation, they’re simply a quick pop culture joke, but in this, they were all blink and you will miss it wastes of time, even Christopher Lloyd, Ryan Reynolds, and Ewan McGregor’s. Also, I found myself more occupied with a young couple committing the cinematic sin of bringing their baby to an R-rated film and texting all through the movie. When you contemplate walking out of the theater more than once, you know this is a disappointment (with a good musical number).
A Million Ways to Die in the West wants to be a cross between Tombstone and Blazing Saddles, but it ends up being a convoluted mess whose satirical ideas are executed poorly while wasting a good cast. It’s The Lone Ranger of 2014 and one of the worst of the year.
Shotgun a Beer: when MacFarlane throws a random fart joke after a sweet scene
Do a Bodyshot: every time Amanda Seyfried speaks, ugh.
Take a Drink: when a random cameo appears
Down a 32 oz: when you witness the tripped out animated scene, rattlesnakes what?!