Seth MacFarlane Delivers a Million Ways to Laugh at the West

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Million Ways to Die in the West Critical Blast

You're sitting at home watching TV, when a preview for a movie comes on. It seems interesting enough but you aren't rushing out to buy tickets or calling your friends to find out who wants to go. You may even tell yourself you'll wait until it's available to rent or maybe when it drops on Netflix you'll watch it. Time passes by and you soon forget that it was a movie you wanted to see. Then one day you notice it on the channel guide, but you have other things to do so, maybe another time.

A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is one of those movies.

As ridiculous a movie title as it sounds, it's relevant in more ways than one. Which is a reminder that the movie is not only silly and juvenile, but it's also smart.

If you've forgotten about the movie, let me refresh your memory: it's a Western/Comedy written and directed by Family Guy and American Dad creator, Seth MacFarlane. This fact alone could have turned many people off to the movie.

You either love or hate his style of juvenile and politically incorrect comedy.

The movie centers on main character Albert Stark, played by Seth himself, who is a poor sheep herder who seems to be self-aware of all the dangers that exist in the old west. He is overly-cautious, as his fear of dying prevents him from doing anything risky or adventurous. This behavior, while benefitting the comedic nature of the film, leads to his girlfriend deciding it's time to end their relationship.

The plot is a series of Rom-Com tropes that have been overused:

Guy loses girl > Guy meets new girl > they team up to make old girl jealous > Guy falls in love with new girl > New girl has a jerk husband > Guy finds out new girl lied to him...you know the rest.

Trust me, I didn't spoil the movie. You can see the plot develop from a mile away. Really, this is more about the journey than the actual plot itself. The twist to it all, is that it's set in the old west, with as much violent slapstick as a person can enjoy. It helps to be familiar with Seth's style of comedy and his penchant for 80's pop-culture references, but it's not required. For the sake of this movie, he turns things on its head by referencing what would be seen as 'pop-culture' for the late 1800's.

Don't worry! If you're looking for that 80's reference, you won't be disappointed. Yes, Seth MacFarlane manages to insert an 80's reference into this old-western style comedy. He steps outside the context of the movie, but given what it is (I won't spoil it because it's that awesome), it's highly forgiveable.

I don't think there was a gag or one-liner that didn't work. There were a few scenes where it almost felt like Seth was doing a stand-up routine, but it happened organically and the transitions didn't feel forced to me.

Some comedies feel like the story gets in the way of the jokes. The timing can be awkward, as though the jokes were just randomly inserted into the movie. Sometimes a movie forgets its a comedy as the plot thickens and it slows to a crawl.

That doesn't happen here.

The humor is an important part of the movie, woven into each scene and set up properly. It's not just random fart and poop jokes, though there were plenty to be had. A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST is filled with irony and enough references to western cliches to make even casual fans of the genre feel 'in' on the jokes.

Seth MacFarlane is too recognizable to be anything other than himself dressed in an old western outfit. He embraces it, so it doesn't seem weird. The thing I least expected from this movie was the great on-screen chemistry Charlize Theron had with Seth. Her interactions seemed so natural, it was like you were watching two old friends goofing around.

Their timing was in-sync and it really made their scenes together enjoyable.

All comedies should be taken light-heartedly and this is no exception. With antagonists played by both Liam Neeson and Neil Patrick Harris, and cameo appearances all the way to the end, the movie you've been putting off will quickly find it's way into your list of favorites.

If you have the chance to rent it, stream it or catch it on one of the premium cable stations, I hightly recommend you watch A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST. It's a very funny and entertaining movie that will tickle you to death.

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0