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

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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.

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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

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.