Whether you like his brand of humor or not, Seth MacFarlane is a comedic genius. He’s created a handful of successful shows and his first feature film, Ted, is one of the highest grossing R-rated movies of all time. With all of that said, it saddens me to say that his new film, A Million Ways to Die in the West, doesn’t deliver the laughs. Now are there funny parts? Of course. It’s sexual, crude, disgusting and violent. Everything you could possibly want in a rated R comedy, yet there are only moments of actual laughter. It falls victim to not only revealing too much in the previews, but there’s simply not enough story or jokes to carry itself through 2 hours.
MacFarlane plays a sheep farmer named Albert who despises the wild west. It’s a place where anything and everything has the capability to kill you. Albert likes to talk things out before shooting from the hip and that’s not very popular where he lives. You’re seen as a coward which is why his one and only love Louise (Amanda Seyfried) leaves him for Foy (a scene-stealing Neil Patrick Harris) who is better and more superior than Albert due to his glorious mustache. In a surprising, desperate attempt to capture Louise’s heart once again, Albert challenges Foy to a duel. But don’t forget, Albert is a talker not a fighter. Obviously, he is probably good as dead.
That is until a mysterious but gorgeous woman comes to town. Her name is Anna (Charlize Theron) and not only do her and Albert form a friendship, but may be something more. She is an accomplished gunslinger and offers to help Albert so he doesn’t die face-down in the dirt in front of everyone in town. And while sparks and bullets fly between the two, Anna doesn’t tell him about her invective husband named Clinch (Liam Neeson), a notorious outlaw who is feared by all. And guess what? He’s coming to town.
We can’t forget about Albert’s best buds Edward (Giovanni Ribisi) and his prostitute girlfriend Ruth (Sarah Silverman). They are both Christians whom are waiting to have sex until they wed. However, Ruth is having meaningless sex 15-20 times a day with strangers, but Edward is a very understanding boyfriend. They not only provide some of the best lines, but the filthiest as well.
A Million Ways to Die in the West is outrageous, raunchy, and ridiculous, which is to be expected by MacFarlane. Let’s be honest, that is what we want. Unfortunately, what works in Ted does not work here. It’s an impressive cast but hearing MacFarlane is different than seeing him as a leading man. The role just doesn’t fit well on him. He looks out of place. More importantly though is the lack of laughs this movie suffers from. Most of the jokes we’ve heard before or may have already been told on Family Guy. And there’s not as much as dying as you might think, but the deaths that do occur you’ve seen over and over in the trailers. But I will give MacFarlane credit to actually trying to make some time for romance. That may be the most shocking part of the movie.
A western spoof is a tough thing to not only create but succeed at it. A Million Ways to Die in the West isn’t trying to be Blazing Saddles. That would just be foolish to begin with. But it does try to be this rare western comedy with relevance to the times we live in today. MacFarlane doesn’t completely fail at doing so and some jokes undoubtedly make their mark. The problem is so do the missed opportunities.