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A Million Ways To Die In The West

A Million Ways To Die In The West

Seth MacFarlane apparently believes that because you can do something, you should. Does he
have the ability to show us a sheep’s genitals and then have the animal urinate
on him? Yes he does. Can he resist doing it? No he can’t. He also thinks there’s
something appealing about having all of his characters—especially the hero
(played by himself) and heroine (Charlize Theron—use the “f” word at every
opportunity—but not for any particular reason. Armando Iannucci and the writers
of HBO’s Veep have elevated cursing
to a plateau of high art, but not MacFarlane. He just thinks every f***ing
piece of dialogue should contain at least one f***ing expletive, like a naughty
schoolboy who’s putting one over on the teacher.

It’s too bad, because A
Million Ways to Die in the West
has real possibilities and a fair number of
funny gags. The film, which MacFarlane wrote with his longtime cohorts Alec
Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, is built around a single but solid joke: living in
the West was dangerous and ridiculously uncomfortable. A nasty bad guy (Liam
Neeson) splits up his gang and sends his wife (Theron) ahead to a one-horse
town, where she takes a liking to sheep farmer MacFarlane and tries to persuade
him that he’s wasting his time mooning over the girl (Amanda Seyfried) who just
dumped him.

MacFarlane’s production team has provided handsome sets,
locations, and music as a backdrop for his Western comedy…but the overall film,
while amusing at times, is a fast-food movie with no staying power. MacFarlane
acquits himself well in the leading role and shares the laugh content with
costars Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Silverman, Neil Patrick Harris, and others. But
he can’t decide if he wants us to take his hero seriously or not; it varies
from scene to scene and reveals the lack of thought behind the project.

If nothing else, the movie may remind MacFarlane’s core
audience of what they’re missing by not having Westerns as part of their regular
movie menu. The majestic scenery of Monument Valley opens the film, set to Joel
McNeely’s Elmer Bernstein-inspired music, and invites us into a world we don’t
often get to see on the big screen. 


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