A Million Ways To Die In The West (2014)
A Million Ways To Die In The West is funny guy Seth MacFarlane’s second feature film as director. Ted (2012) was a funny movie, almost on par with some of the better episodes of MacFarlane’s Family Guy show. The wild and often tactless humour of that tv show proved to be able to work out on the big screen too, so why not have wild expectations for A Million Ways To Die In The West? A sensational wild west comedy? Sadly though, western movies take issue if they have to share their genre with pretty much any other genre. Some western-comedies have proven to be successful, like the Bud Spencer/Terence Hill movies or Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles (1974) (of which MacFarlane generously borrowed the opening credit design), but quite a lot of them just didn’t turn out to be funny. A Million Ways To Die In The West is not very funny either.
The overlong story, written by MacFarlane and Family Guy writers/producers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild centres around an offbeat western antihero called Albert (MacFarlane), whose wife Louise (Amanda Seyfried) has just left him after he kind of chickened out of a duel. To impress his wife again, he challenges her new boyfriend Foy (Neil Patrick Harris) to a duel, and with the help of Anna (Charlize Theron), the wife of outlaw gunslinger Clinch (Liam Neeson), he is destined to win.
MacFarlane fails to craft a really good joke, resorting to jokes like heads getting smashed in suddenly. It’s not really a good sign that these jokes are the funniest, it might work in the animated world of 22-minute-episodes, but they get quite boring in 116-minute-feature film. MacFarlane and friends make almost a million of those, but only a couple of them really stick out. It doesn’t really help that MacFarlane cast himself as the lead, since he’s just not as funny in real life as he is as an animated or CGI-realised figure. He doesn’t look like a western antihero at all.
A Million Ways is an ambitious effort and nowhere does it get really annoying to watch, but it does disappoint. Not in a million ways, but just a few. Hopefully Ted 2 is going to be funnier.