FilmReview

Review: “A Million Ways to Die in the West” is Essentially a Long and Lousy “Family Guy” Episode

Griffin Conlogue ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

 

Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron in A Million Ways to Die in the West. Photo Credit:  Lorey Sebastian/Universal Pictures.
Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Seth MacFarlane and Charlize Theron in A Million Ways to Die in the West. Photo Credit: Lorey Sebastian/Universal Pictures.

 

As disjointed as an episode of Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West is a large step backwards in his career following the success of his directorial debut Ted in 2012. Though many of the jokes land in the film, the plot is weak and it features very little for one to dig their teeth into.

The film follows Albert (director Seth MacFarlane), a sheep farmer who challenges Foy (Neil Patrick Harris) to a gun fight in order to win back the love of his life (a rather unfunny Amanda Seyfried). He gets into some mishaps along the way, and is trained by Anna (Charlize Theron), wife of legendary outlaw Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson). Much of the actors excel in their performances, especially Neil Patrick Harris and Neeson, but MacFarlane should have taken a step back from the leading role. A more established acting presence could have definitely benefitted the film. Ted thrived on the star power of Mark Wahlberg, but this film lived and died on the shoulders of director MacFarlane.

Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman in A Million Ways to Die in the West. Photo Credit: Lorey Sebastian/Universal Pictures.
Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman in A Million Ways to Die in the West. Photo Credit: Lorey Sebastian/Universal Pictures.

The “Old-West” humor is what really succeeded in this film. While the story is simplistic and not large enough in scope for the almost two-hour run time, the jokes about what life was like in 1882 Arizona brought loud laughs from the crowd. Some surprise cameos added to the humor as well and should garner some buzz around the movie.

The juvenile poop jokes and racist comments are what really held the movie back from reaching the hilarity of Ted. It generally seemed like a bad episode of MacFarlane’s Family Guy. The plot had a basic story running throughout, but was also lined with offshoot “jokes” that had little to do with anything. This film seems to be yet another misstep in MacFarlane’s career, which has been shaky as of late. Since Ted, he has struggled hosting the Oscars, created the critically panned and often sexist and racist Dads, and directed this disappointing comedy.

Giovanni Ribisi and Seth MacFarlane in A Million Ways to Die in the West. Photo Credit:  Lorey Sebastian/Universal Pictures.
Giovanni Ribisi and Seth MacFarlane in A Million Ways to Die in the West. Photo Credit: Lorey Sebastian/Universal Pictures.

MacFarlane is a bit of a household name at this point, and the film could attract Western fans as well as fans of Family Guy and How I Met Your Mother. It should have the legs to make a chunk of change, but without the strong word of mouth and fresh feeling Ted had, it is unlikely to make anywhere near the 500 million-plus that the talking bear made at the box office. Even with its hefty amount of laughs, A Million Ways to Die in the West winds up falling on its face and getting lost in a cloud of dust.

Overall Grade: C+

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