REVIEW: A Million Ways to Die in the West

2 06 2014

According to Seth MacFarlane, there are a million ways to die in the west.  Too bad not a one of them could have come to put me out of my misery while watching his dreadful new film.  It doesn’t just miss the mark of Western comedic great “Blazing Saddles;” MacFarlane pretty much misfires on laughs altogether.

A Million Ways to Die in the West” amounts to little more a bloated reel of MacFarlane kvetching about everything in his life.  At first, it just seems like a long-winded way of setting up the perilousness of the primitive civilization he intends to mock.  Yet after about 10 minutes, it becomes clear that MacFarlane is never going to shut up.  The experience becomes akin to being locked in a room with your annoying friend that can only speak in the form of complaints – for nearly two hours.

MacFarlane’s relentless pessimism is so pervasive that it overpowers the rest of the cast.  Only Neil Patrick Harris, cleverly employed here as a cocky cuckold with a finely-kept mustache, manages to entertain in the slightest with any wit.  Charlize Theron, as MacFarlane’s pseudo-love interest, coasts through the film on autopilot and never really sparks.  Amanda Seyfried and Liam Neeson are mentally checked out as well, but they’re playing such familiar roles that it really doesn’t seem quite as egregious.


Heck, for that matter, MacFarlane sticks to the familiar like white on rice.  He’s obsessed with name-dropping cultural touchstones, which comes off as a lazy ploy for relevance in the absence of truly original humor.  Yes, this includes bizarre cameos that seem intent on one-upping the gay Ryan Reynolds from “Ted.”

There’s an abundance of anachronistic humor throughout the film, which wears about as thin as MacFarlane’s incessant braying.  And MacFarlane, for some odd reason, seems to extend the jokes that fall the flattest as if some extra length will make them funny.  Perhaps that’s why “A Million Ways to Die in the West” runs 116 minutes.  It abides by the fundamentally flawed maxim, “if it doesn’t work, make it longer.”

Throughout the film, MacFarlane’s character is always so smug, almost to the point of being self-aware.  If he’s the smartest guy in town, why doesn’t he just get up and leave the west he despises so much?  If you’re smart at all, you’ll take one of the million reasons to avoid this movie so you never have to answer the question I just posed.  D1star



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