Seth MacFarlane is taking another whack at the movie making business with A Million Ways To Die In The West. He doesn’t have much reason not to have confidence since his last film, Ted, made close to six hundred million worldwide. His foray into the western genre seems a little less focused and more like a two hour Family Guy break-away than even his previous entry was. Is A Million Ways a love letter to Mel Brooks, or a stammering attempt to recreate the parody film?
Seth MacFarlane plays the not-so-manly Albert, who seems like a fish out of water in the old west. He doesn’t drink like a cowboy, or visit the whore house like a cowboy. He’d rather be farming his sheep, as terrible of sheep farmer as he is. When his best gal dumps him for the town mustachianado, Foy (Neil Patrick Harris), he falls into depression. With the help of the new gun slinging gal in town, Anna (Charlize Theron), Albert hopes to beat Foy in a dual to win back the heart of the only girl he ever loved, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), who is really just a gold digging shell of a person looking for someone to give her everything she’s ever wanted. Anna falls in love with Albert as she desperately tried to make him see how much he has to offer.
After we get through the obvious homage to Blazing Saddles with the opening credits, we see Seth MacFarlane arriving late to his own dual. He bumbles about begging his opponent to come to an amicable agreement with him in order to spare his own life. He then has what felt like the longest monologue ever referring to the many ways a person can die in the west. I was already sick of the joke in the first ten minutes of the movie.
I won’t say this movie is bad, because it actually has quite a few laugh-out-loud moments, but I couldn’t help but imagine the setup for this breakaway on Family guy or any of his other animated series. My first plot idea is one in which Stewie invents a machine to turn Brian human and then sends him to an alternate, live-action dimension currently enduring the pains of the western era. Then, of course, Brian would have to pretend he has been in that time and place all along so not to raise suspicion.
I actually really enjoyed the cast of this film. Charlize Theron was quite funny, even more so than her part on Arrested Development. Giovanni Ribisi is great as the innocent, but lovable virgin of the west. Sarah Silverman is her normal hilarious self as the questionably ambitious whore. And Of course, I always love the performance of the incredibly talented Neil Patrick Harris. His mustache and accompanying theme song are enjoyable to say the least. If nothing else, the random cameos from unlikely appearances such as Ewan McGregor, Dennis Haskins, Ryan Reynolds (who didn’t even have a speaking part), Gilbert Gottfried as the dubious Abraham Lincoln, and especially Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown, will certainly get you laughing.
It was a fun theatre going movie but some parts left open for laughs were awkwardly silent in the seats at this one. If you are a MacFarlane fan, much like Ted, I see most people enjoying this movie. For me, it fell short on plot focus and spent a little too much time talking about all the reasons it would suck to live in the west. It seemed like he and the other Family Guy writers (Alec Sulkin & Wellesley Wild) were confused as to whether they wanted it to be a straight forward comedy or an all-out parody like the fourth wall breaking Blazing Saddles. I give A Million Ways To Die In The West 3 out of 5 Nerd Skulls.
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