Review: A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 13 June 2014


Seth MacFarlane's Western comedy manages only a few worthwhile laughs, while most of the movie is sadly bloated and shockingly unfunny.

Back in 2012 when TV's Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane made his big screen debut in TED, the result was a hilarious high-concept comedy that involved a man named John (Mark Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear (voiced by Seth MacFarlane). It was a huge box office hit and no doubt MacFarlane has proven himself that he could do well in live-action comedy as much as he did in the animated series. Fast forward in 2014, I'm really eager to see his next follow-up, which is a Western comedy called A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST. And judging by the red band trailer that I've watched earlier, I almost convinced that MacFarlane is going to hit another comedy jackpot with his second movie. But upon finally watched the entire movie, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is a huge disappointment that fails to hit most of the marks.

The movie centres on the cowardly sheepherder Albert (Seth MacFarlane) who first seen trying to talk his way out of a showdown in the dusty town of Old Stump, Arizona and then subsequently gets dumped by his beloved girlfriend, Louise (Amanda Seyfried). He tries hard to win her heart back, but Louise has started dating with the wealthy Foy (Neil Patrick Harris). Then things change when Albert meets a beautiful stranger named Anna (Charlize Theron) after saving her from a vicious bar fight. Both of them soon become friends, and Anna is so kind to him until she's willing to teach him how to shoot a gun especially after Albert and Foy agree to challenge on a duel. But the real problem arrives when Anna's notorious bandit husband, Clinch (Liam Neeson) returns and discovers her relationship with Albert.
For a comedy that spoofed the Western genre, I wasn't expecting much in terms of its production value. But to my surprise, the movie does benefits from a good widescreen cinematography courtesy of Michael Barrett. Even the Old West setting is done right by production designer Stephen Lineweaver, while Joel McNeely's music hits the right note for this kind of movie. Kudos also goes to Cindy Evans for her impressive costume design (particularly the dresses wore by Charlize Theron and Amanda Seyfried) as well.

As the lead actor of the movie, Seth MacFarlane is adequate enough playing a fool while Charlize Theron is both sassy and appealing enough as Albert's love interest. Giovanni Ribisi and Sarah Silverman, who both play as a couple -- one is a shy shoemaker, and the other is a perky prostitute -- where they never sleep together before) are worthwhile. Liam Neeson, who proves that he has a comic talent in THE LEGO MOVIE, make the most of his brief appearance hamming up as the pain-in-the-neck Clinch.

The opening showdown where Albert makes fun of his opponent by showing suggestive sexual move in the shadow; and the surprise scene where Albert meets a certain famous character from a certain famous movie.

Clocking at nearly two hours long, the movie drags a lot because of MacFarlane's inability to sustain a length of satisfying comic moments. Most of the laughs here are either too lame (the whole barn dance is among the perfect example here) or repetitive with lots of graphic piss-and-poop toilet humours (e.g. scenes like a sheep pee on Albert's face and another one where Foy literally poops inside a hat). Others, like the supposedly inspired moment of an extended hallucinogenic scene late in the movie falls flat and some of the gross-out gags feels more off-putting than generating necessary laughs here.

As Louise, it's sad to see a talented actress like Amanda Seyfried is mostly reduced to a window-dressing part who barely make an impact on the screen.


It's obvious that A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST works better as a comedy skit than a feature-length movie. Let's hope Seth MacFarlane able to bounce back in the future.


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