Movie Review: ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’ Supplies More Dumb Than Laughs


A Million Ways to Die in the West” | 116 min. | Rated R | Director: Seth MacFarlane | Stars: Seth MacFarlane, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Giovanni Ribisi, Neil Patrick Harris and Sarah Silverman

Rating: 2/4

Best known for creating, scripting and voicing the characters in television’s “Family Guy,” Seth MacFarlane returns with his sophomore film effort.

“A Million Ways to Die in the West” follows a chicken-hearted sheep farmer by the name of Albert Stark (MacFarlane), who backs out of a gunfight and is dumped by his girlfriend (Amanda Seyfried). But when a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron) rides into town, Stark finds his courage and puts it to the ultimate test.

After years of working in television, MacFarlane proved to the world that his brand of comedy could work on the big screen with the 2012 hit, “Ted.” He showed a lot of promise as a comedy filmmaker, as “Ted” was one of the funniest movies in years. Sadly, however, he didn’t carry that same consistent humor over to the West.

Of the two-hour feature, there are close to 20 minutes of solid comedy, filled with many genius moments, such as questioning why people didn’t smile in photos from the 1800s, the running gag of Sarah Silverman’s character being a prostitute who’s saving herself for marriage with her boyfriend (Giovanni Ribisi), and the whole seemingly modern mind of MacFarlane’s character. The residue of the film, however, is clouded with crude and childish poop jokes. So if you find some of Adam Sandler’s recent comedies funny, you may get a kick out of the idea of Neil Patrick Harris suffering from explosive diarrhea… And doing so into a hat… Which they show… All of it.

“A Million Ways to Die in the West” is by no means a complete waste. There are some genuinely great moments and fun cameos (look for the stinger before the closing credits). Whether MacFarlane was aiming for this to be a parody, homage or both, it’s a low blow for comedy with laughs inversely proportionate to the title. And if it’s an attempt to revive the genre, I highly doubt it will do much of anything.

Bottom line: Perhaps it is best to save your cash and rent it on a day when all the good quality films are checked out at your local Redbox.

“A Million Ways to Die in the West” opens tonight at 8 p.m.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction ( as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.