A Million Ways To Die In The West review

Review Luke Savage 29 May 2014 - 07:19

Family Guy and Ted comedy overlord Seth MacFarlane takes on the western in A Million Ways To Die In The West. Here's Luke's review...

So, A Million Ways To Die In The West. Not as funny as Ted, but with more funny bits than just the trailer. Chances are that's not going to make the film's poster quotes. I'll leave that to Bella magazine. Although a film having a major press screening two days before its cinema release might just be on the lookout for anything it can get its hands on. Maybe I shouldn't write myself off too soon.

Likewise, anyone looking to write off A Million Ways To Die In The West shouldn't rush into judgement. It's crude, a little too long, and suffers simply by being a comedy western in a world graced by Blazing Saddles and City Slickers.

Like City Slickers, MacFarlane's second feature as director takes its leading man's modern persona outside its comfort zone. A cultural reference comedian thrust into a landscape that robs him of those comedic opportunities. How will he cope?

Pretty well, as it happens. Strip away all the 80s movie references, and Ted was really a comedy built on the incongruity of foul-mouthed, Boston-accented rants emanating from a cute teddy bear. A Million Ways finds its best moments by mining the same territory. MacFarlane's Albert, a western hero who neither belongs in the Wild West nor does anything that heroic, is essentially 'Seth MacFarlane: Oscar host'; an observational comedian pointing out the ridiculousness of his surroundings.

That juxtaposition is the driving force behind many of A Million Ways' stand-out moments. Easy toilet gags often morph into something smarter, a crude punchline that's actually a set-up for a much better punchline.

Great MacFarlane scenes are like runaway trains. Where most writers would bail out after a few laughs, he just keeps going. Cruder, more outrageous, funnier. There’s no stopping them. Think of the drug-fuelled house party scene in Ted. Where A Million Ways falls down is in not having enough runaway trains.

For a film littered with surprisingly lurid violence and a generous dose of profanity, MacFarlane plays it safer than you might expect. The edginess that characterised Family Guy's best episodes has been watered down, forced to share space with the conventions of a mainstream comedy film. Naturally, the two don't always make for the best of friends, the conventional winning out more often than you'd expect.

Yet when that convention comes with a supporting cast of A Million Ways' calibre, it's still a cut above what most non-Apatow comedies can muster. Charlize Theron matches MacFarlane's man-out-of-time shtick, playing the subtle yang to his exasperated, occasionally overblown yin. Sarah Silverman does a fine job playing Sarah Silverman. Liam Neeson gets to rasp a little bit more, although it's hard to watch him now and not think of his ingenious 'good cop, bad cop' from The Lego Movie.

And there are cameos! You know, famous actors glimpsed in fleeting moments. Maybe too many, and too few of them rising above the level of comedy you'd expect to find in a Epic Movie style flick, where simply referencing a film is deemed anarchic enough. At times it seems like MacFarlane is holding himself in check, as if worried that being too outrageous might detract from the film's romantic sub-plot. And yet the two aren't mutually exclusive when they're each done right.

So A Million Ways To Die In The West is a film that seems content to take the middle road. A film with sharp wit too often dulled. Sure, it's not consistently funny enough to garner the same affection as Ted, but that's a hefty benchmark to measure it against. Leave those preconceptions at the door and it has more than enough laughs, smarts, and knowing winks to keep you entertained. With the best drug-trip sequence since The Simpsons thrown in for good measure.

A Million Ways To Die In The West is out on Friday 30th May in the UK.

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I think McFarlane copes a lot of crap (although i'm sure he doesn't notice while lying on a huge wad of cash at night). If he goes crude or offensive, he cops flak; if he goes more conventional or goes for a trad Hollywood dance number, he cops flak.
I pretty much love anything he does (my fave still being the sheep shearing scene - go see on Youtube) so will go and see this and probably laugh my ass off.

I for one cannot wait to see this film. I've not seen one thing this guy has done and not liked it. Including 'Dads' which has just been cancelled.

The world needs more people like him willing to take a chance and push the boat out.

I thought Ted was crap though I enjoy Family Guy and American Dad (AD having been the better show for some time now). Will I like this?

My fears for this film were raised when I saw that they'd dug out Ted for the trailer. Like they were worried it wasn't strong enough on it's own and they desperately wanted people to realise the connection. I'll still give it a watch though.

I have another name for Seth Mcfarlane's Ted - it's Look At All These Famous People That I (the Director) Know: Also There's a Crude Bear. If AMWDW is actually Look At All These Famous People That I (the Director) Know 2: No Crude Bear This Time...well I'm not feeling so warm towards it now. Still gonna give it a chance coz that's who I am!

The only problem I really have with seeing this is that McFarlane seems to use almost his own voice for Brian and when I see him act I get taken out of the moment because it's not Brian.

I know that probably sounds like an odd concern as loads of actors sound the same in each film, but for me I have so much experience of the voice that hearing it away from a pissed cartoon dog is jarring.

The only funny thing about Ted was that it brought Sam Jones back in front of the camera, this on the other hand looks promising.

This actually plays a lot like an extended Family Guy episode. Lots of scattershot gags thrown in, not much story connecting them together.

It can't be "2"... Ted 2 comes out next year.

Or a way to keep Ted in mind as well, since Ted 2 is in the works.

3/5 stars. Again. Come on, guys...

What's wrong with the giving of that score?

you know your in bad territory when the publicists feel as though they need to draw attention to ted at every possible opportunity in order to sell this film, not that ted was even any good, seth mcfarlane is a talentless hack, his one trick is played out and the sooner he fades further into obscurity the better it will be for the human race as a whole

Every review I've read on this site so far has given that score. Every one of them.

Before this one, here are the last 15 movie reviews we posted on this site, and their scores. Three stars isn't as prevalent a score as it may seem!

Blue Ruin
The Wind Rises

X-Men: Days Of Future Past
Next Goal Wins
Brick Mansions

Postman Pat: The Movie
Touchy Feely

A Haunted House 2


A lot of reviews are 3 stars on DoG.

I always play 'guess the stars before I click'.

I always guess 3, I'm usually right!

Same here.

Yeah the good thing about Seth is that he doesn't care and just does what he wants. No one cares what internet critics think any way.

A lot of reviews are 2, 3 and 4 stars on this site. We do get flack for this, but I suspect it's because reviews of big films seem to land more in the three star bracket. But that's because we reckon, in those instances, that they're three star films, and back it up with a detailed explanation why.


He has got a lovely voice, though.

not giving my money to Seth! I just pirate instead!

Admittedly I prefer the 10 star rating as it gives you a bit more leeway

2 star 'movie' at best.

As much as I enjoy 'Family Guy', that Sheep clip from 'Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy' is about as funny as a stillborn on Mother's Day. You must be a simple soul, Rich.

Well gosh there Eric, thanks for the insult there buddy. I'll cherish it.

That's a good idea. Actually, it's what every other big site is doing nowadays. Would you consider it, Den Of Geek?

P.S. I actually like your reviews, don't get me wrong. I'm a fan. But the rating thing can be annoying sometimes.

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