A Million Ways to Die in the West was one of those films that I was really looking forward to when I first heard about it. While I’m hardly a huge Seth MacFarlane fan you do need to give the guy credit where credit is due, he does have an extremely sharp wit to him and can make an audience laugh at some of the stupidest things imaginable.
Needless to say A Million Ways to Die in the West is a little bit too big for its britches. MacFarlane brings in an A-list cast of very talented actors including, but not limited to, Liam Neeson, Charlize Theron, Neil Patrick Harris, Sarah Silverman, Giovanni Ribisi, Amanda Seyfried and a huge slew of hilarious and fun cameos. The only problem… the main cast really ends up being a letdown.
A Million Ways to Die in the West follows Albert (Seth MacFarlane), an inept sheep farmer, whose lover, Louise (Amanda Seyfried), has just dumped him. In attempt to win her back he challenges her new lover, Foy (NPH), to a duel, the problem lies within when the audience learns that Albert has never fired a gun before. Aided by Anna (Charlize Theron), the wife of notorious bandit Clinch (Liam Neeson), Albert learns about guns, love, and life in the West.
While the plot isn’t the weakest plot by far, it is pretty standard. It’s a script that really needs something to punch it up so it becomes more than just subpar. Unfortunately the film never truly finds its groove. There are so many excellent cast members who I just felt were under-utilized. Silverman and Ribisi’s characters have a cute relationship going back and forth which could have played for laughs if written properly, but instead it becomes backdrop to the backdrop and is quite often forgotten about, making the punches weaker.
When it comes to the jokes in the film, there weren’t many original jokes in the entire movie. A lot of the jokes that are in the film are classic MacFarlane, where he seems to realize there hasn’t been a laugh in awhile, and so rather than come up with something extremely witty he would throw in a fart, poop or dick joke to get a few audience members laughing, hoping that laughter would catch on and become contagious. Sometimes it was, most times it wasn’t.
The best part of the film were the great cameos which included Gilbert Gottfried as the most messed up Abraham Lincoln I have ever seen, Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown (yes that Doc Brown), Dennis Haskins (from Saved by the Bell days), Ewan McGregor, Jamie Foxx, Ryan Reynolds and the voice of Patrick Stewart. You have to give credit to MacFarlane; he knows a lot of actors who are willing to work with him, even if it’s just for a 10 second gag.
Overall as comedies go A Million Ways to Die in the West isn’t the funniest, by far, a lot of the jokes are cheap and base, but there are some really golden moments that make me not hate it. For a comedy, it was too long and really did drag on near the end, but overall, it was better than Neighbors.