IMDb: 6.5 / 10
Rotten Tomatoes: 33% (52% Audience)
There are many things wrong with A Million Ways to Die in the West. Here are some descriptors: Lazy. Uneven. Long. Not good word association with a comedy. I enjoy Family Guy, generally like Seth MacFarlane and thought Ted was surprisingly brilliant. The funnyman’s latest offering has its moments but ultimately disappoints. MacFarlane always does a sort of balancing act, balancing himself regardless of role as the smartest, most self-aware wiseass in the back of the room and he’s actually quite fun as an actor. However, the anachronistic qualities that should have provided the base of a broader farce too often fall flat. Or worse, devolve into immature jokes of the penal nature. The movie has a mix of genuinely funny, clever bits and sophomoric humor that feels much better suited sprinkled in and quickly moved from, not lingered on. As Brian so aptly put it – ‘it was like one long, dragged out Family Guy cutaway, and there’s a reason why those are short and funny.’ Listen, there is no denying a well-timed fart or unexpected penis can elicit a guffaw, but there is an odd balance in A Million Ways where jokes bounce from the clever to the dumb-but-snarkily-and-amusingly-off, to just flat out dumb, never quite finding a coherent tone. I mean this in no ‘big headed’ sort of way, either. Ted was crass, rude and vulgar. However there was an undeniable tone set and followed, allowing for an inappropriate, yes, but also very much touchingly amusing film. MacFarlane’s western has some very funny parts, but largely disappoints. Regardless of what you think of the man and his work, he’s quite bright and funny. I spent large portions of the movie thinking, “you could do better, Mr. MacFarlane.” Because he has.
Should I pay to see it?
No. Well, maybe. If you vigorously enjoy MacFarlane’s other offerings, you may enjoy the film as we did, chuckling but ultimately knowing you wasted several dollars. Certainly a thing to do with some friends some night, if you’re looking to get out, I suppose? Your best bet would be to save those dollars and go see one of the other comedies coming out this summer (say… 22 Jump Street?) and wait for A Million Ways to show up on TV somewhere or get it cheap on DVD. There are undoubtedly excellent moments (catch the cameos, actors whose mere appearance are often funnier than the jokes surrounding them) , but the movie really drags on. You’ll laugh… and check your watch quite a bit.
Could I watch it with a date?
Er… yes? Depends on what your date thinks about Sarah Silverman and Old West semen jokes?
This is less a section for gender or date discussion and far more relevant to someone’s sense of humor. Admittedly, MacFarlane’s jokes simply do not fly with some people and this movie has none of the demented heart of Ted, just the mean, rude humor. One of the reasons I have such respect for MacFarlane (and similarly, the guys behind South Park) is the level of intelligent self-awareness they bring to their biting, rude and often brilliant satire. MacFarlane’s Albert and Theron’s (gorgeous and well-set in the old west – she also might blessed with a deeper well of comedic chops than we realize and is willing to use them) Anna have a discussion about the binding power of hate, rather than that abstract idea of ‘love’ – “Hate moves mountains,” quips MacFarlane. And while the conversation fits the plot, it is also largely a very intelligent comment on why MacFarlane’s (and comics of similar ilk) humor has strong, united fans – connecting over mutual dislike forges strong bonds!
There are some good sight gags and physical comedy in spots, but too often (and I say this as both a fan and someone entering the theater ready for low-brow amusement) the humor relies on low hanging fruit, when the movie demonstrates a clear ability to make richer jokes.
Could I watch it with my mother?
No. Do not see this movie with your mother. I repeat: DO NOT SEE A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST WITH YOUR MOTHER. You will be attempting one of the million ways to die of discomfort in your seat.
Neil Patrick Harris crushes it, obviously, even getting a “challenge accepted!” in there that made most of us laugh loudly in the theater.
Seth MacFarlane must be a decent guy, underneath some of the snark, because absolutely everyone involved is game to poke fun at themselves and be put in absurd and disgusting scenarios.
But no, if you take nothing else away from this recount, remember this: DO. NOT. SEE. THIS. MOVIE. WITH. YOUR. MOTHER. Ever. No good can come from that. The End.