A Million Ways to Die in the West Movie Review
Seth MacFarlane has struck gold twice in his career. His latest movie, A Million Ways to Die in the West, is not one of those times.
As a follow-up to the box office hit Ted, MacFarlane foolishly decided to tackle a genre that, for the last 20 years, has with few exceptions resulted in major flops. People just don’t care for westerns these days, and they sure as hell don’t care about period-piece comedies.
Especially poorly written ones like A Million Ways to Die in the West.
Whereas Ted succeeded in part because it had a plot and purpose, MacFarlane serves up A Million Ways much like he does “The Family Guy:” as a series of crude, rapid fire sketches. “The Family Guy” is overrated, but as a 22-minute cartoon that moves a mile a minute, it can overcome misfires easily. A Million Ways, a two-hour, live-action movie, is not afforded the same luxury.
The movie’s jokes generally revolve around Seth MacFarlane gasping or groaning at the horrible or idiotic things he witnesses—from a man getting crushed by a giant block of ice to random bar fights breaking out for no apparent reason. He plays a straight man, wise beyond his years, who spends his time making fun of the Old West.
Very few of his jokes hit the bull’s-eye. Or even the target.
A Million Ways to Die in the West is not without its entertaining bits. A running joke about a Christian man (Giovanni Ribisi) and his prostitute girlfriend (Sarah Silverman) who refuses to have sex until marriage despite getting screwed a dozen times a day is funny. There are other random scenes that work as well, because statistically, a certain amount of scenes had to work.
But by and large, A Million Ways to Die in the West is a comedy that fails to show up for the gunfight. You can feel the desperation—you can see it in MacFarlane’s eyes—and the desperation is painful.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.