A Million Ways To Die In The West

Directed by:  Seth MacFarlane

Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Neil Patrick Harris, Giovanni Ribisi, and Sarah Silverman

This weekend, Seth MacFarlane’s western comedy, A Million Ways To Die In The West, hits theaters. The film is set in 1882.  Albert (MacFarlane) is a sheep farmer down on his luck.  Albert is not prosperous; he lacks courage, and he hates living in the west.  Much to his dismay, his big eyed girlfriend Louise (Amanda Seyfried) dumps him, and immediately begins to date the pompous owner of the local mustacherie Foy (Neil Patrick Harris).  His two friends Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) and local prostitute Ruth (Sarah Silverman), attempt to cheer him up, but to no avail.  Albert seriously contemplates leaving the danger, the hassle, and the horror of the west behind.

Meanwhile, Clinch Leatherwood (Liam Neeson), an infamous gunslinger, isriding near Albert’s town. Clinch is a cold-blooded murderer who physically abuses and intimidates his wife Anna (Charlize Theron).  He sends Anna to stay in the local town while he handles some business.  When Anna arrives at the town, she meets Albert and the two develop a fast friendship.  However, in the west, there is always danger and the two are on a collision course with Foy and the dastardly Clinch Leatherwood.

A Million Ways To Die In The West is MacFarlane’s follow up to his mega hit Ted.  Although A Million Ways boasts a stellar cast, it never rises to the level of hilarity that you would expect from MacFarlane. The attempts at humor are fairly juvenile, and without a sarcastic Teddy Ruxpin, the jokes usually fall flat.  Moreover, some of the comedic bits are revolting.  Viewers are treated to semen running down Sarah Silverman’s face (a la There’s Something About Mary) and Neil Patrick Harris defecating in a hat.  There were scenes that I literally turned away from the screen.  I just do not find a hat full of diarrhea entertaining or amusing in any way.   

The film feels like a failed attempt at satire.  MacFarlane’s character was born in 1882, but he clearly brings modern sensibilities to the world.  He spends most of the film pointing out how ridiculous the wild, wild west was.  He goes on diatribes about murder, infections, poor medicine and the lawlessness of the west.  But instead of MacFarlane’s character continuously pointing out the pitfalls of the west, the film should have been written in a way that the plot itself revealed the craziness of the west in the 1800s.  Having MacFarlane whine about the west takes away from what could have been a clever film in different hands.

On the positive side, I found the side characters more interesting than MacFarlane. I enjoyed Neil Patrick Harris (aside from the aforementioned scene).  Harris is a scene stealer as the arrogant mustacherie owner, and he even has a fun dance number to “If You’ve Only Got A Moustache.”   Liam Neeson is also at his sinister best, and I would like to see him in a darker role in a drama.  Giovanni Ribisi is also endearing in his role as MacFarlane's best friend.  In addition, there are some fun cameos.  I nearly fell out of my chair when I realized one of the townspeople was Mr. Belding from Saved By The Bell.  The best cameo is saved for last after the film ends, so make sure you stay for the end of the film.

A Million Ways To Die In The West earns a 0.09% rating.   There are a few laughs in the film, and that is the only thing keeping this movie from a wasted rating.