Directed by: Seth MacFarlane
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Liam Neeson
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 116 minutes
Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Seth MacFarlane is easily one of the best comedic minds in the business right now. He has taken over the animation world with his shows “Family Guy” and “American Dad” and recently crossed over into film with the huge summer hit “Ted”. “Ted” was a great film that had a heart and yet was still extremely raunchy and also very funny. “A Million Ways to Die in the West” really had some big expectation shoes to fill. Fans are going to be looking for more of what “Ted” delivered and in my eyes it delivers that and more. When I saw the trailer for “A Million Ways to Die in the West”, I just knew I was going to love it. One of the problems I had with the film was that it shows quite a bit of its key jokes in the trailer. There is still much more fun to be had but I would imagine that people that haven’t seen many of the trailers will enjoy this a bit more. Nonetheless, I was hollering out loud for this film and I wasn’t alone either, if people compare this to “Ted”, they are going to be disappointed because they are two very different films but if you look as a stand alone you will have a blast watching “A Million Ways to Die in the West”.
Our story takes place in a small Frontier town called Old Stump in the year 1882. We meet Albert Stark (Seth MacFarlane), who is a sheep farmer that loses his beautiful girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) due to not having enough courage to face a gun duel. While Albert tries to win her back he ends up meeting a newcomer to the town named Anna (Charlize Theron) and the two hit it off. She helps Albert discovers his missing confidence and courage. After spending time with each other they seem to develop feeling for each other but Anna doesn’t let Albert in on the fact that she is the wife to the infamous outlaw Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson). When Clinch arrives in the town, he is looking to call out the man that wooed his wife and it is up to Albert to stand up to him.
I think we have to blame Judd Apatow for running the comedy genre since I feel that he set the path for 2+ hour comedies. I feel that all comedies work best when short and to the punchline. 90 minutes, tops, is what a comedy should be. This film nears the two hour mark and could have easily been trimmed to be much tighter. “Ted” was the same way as well, the film was great in a whole but there were certain parts that dragged major ass, same happens here. You got to give it to MacFarlane though because this is his first film with him in the spotlight, in the leading role, and not hiding behind a voice role. I felt that he really nailed it. He turned out to be a great leading man. I thought he still had great comedic timing and really nailed his jokes. I hope he plans to act more in the future for sure. Charlize Theron was also a nice surprise, I haven’t been a huge fan of her recently but this film really gives her a chance to let loose and have some fun and her performance benefits from it. I like to think that every role can’t be a Oscar winner.
To be completely honest, the rest of the supporting cast including Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman and Liam Neeson are really just background in the film and don’t contribute anything major to the film. NPH is always a riot an,d of course, he sings and dances in this film. I still can’t get that mustache song out of my head. There are also a handful of super quick cameos throughout the film including Alex Borstein, Ralph Garman, Gilbert Gottfried, Ewan McGregor, Ryan Reynolds, John Michael Higgins, Jamie Foxx and Bill Maher. So see if you can catch them on the screen because they are there and gone before you know it. Great Scott, I almost forgot keep an eye out for the great Christopher Lloyd, who pops in for a great cameo as well.
When it comes to Western films, they are a honestly just a hard genre to pull off. People usually don’t come out in droves to see film’s like this but MacFarlance has the balls to try and essentially nail it. I couldn’t help but compare “A Million Ways to Die in the West” to the classic Mel Brooks film “Blazing Saddles”. That film is celebrating it’s 40th anniversary this year and I remember the first time that my father watched it with me. This film reminded me a lot of what that film and what it would have been like if it was made today. This is raunchy, racist, over-the-top and generally offensive. There plenty of foul language, fart jokes and animals getting knocked over. I would be curious to hear Mel Brooks’ comments on the film as well. The locations where this film was shot were also absolutely amazing. Having this be a comedy, you don’t expect amazing visuals but this one really caught my eye and delivered a nice view of the Frontier. This might not be the best comedy ever but I definitely laughed more than not and definitely will be recommending this film!